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J Nutr. 1994 Sep;124(9):1660-6.

Copper deficiency shifts energy substrate utilization from carbohydrate to fat and reduces fat mass in rats.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721.


The influence of copper deficiency on energy metabolism and body composition was examined in rats. Weanling male Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to two dietary treatments: copper-adequate (102.2 mumol/kg) and copper-deficient (9.0 mumol/kg). After 4 wk of treatment, rats were individually housed in metabolic cages within indirect calorimetry units for measurements of respiratory quotient to determine substrate utilization. Body composition was measured by total body electrical conductivity. Net energetic efficiency and fasting heat production were determined from regression analysis of metabolizable energy intake and energy retention (metabolizable energy intake-heat production). Rats were given free access to their respective diets for almost the entire study but were restricted to 70% of normal energy intake for 2 d to provide a range of energy intake required for the regression analysis. Energetic evaluations were determined for 12 d at normal intake and 2 d at a modest restriction (30%). Copper deficiency reduced the respiratory quotient values (0.85 to 0.80), carbohydrate utilization (7.9 to 5.2 g/d), energy retention [8.4 to -66.9 kJ/kg0.75.d)] and energy efficiency (97.8 to 87.7%). However, daily metabolizable energy intake and absolute fasting heat production were not altered. Reductions in final body weights (289 to 263 g), absolute fat mass (65.7 to 51.5 g) and proportion of body fat (22.7 to 19.6 g/100 g) were observed in copper-deficient rats compared with controls when all indirect calorimetry measurements were completed after 7 wk of treatment. Thus, copper deficiency increased utilization of fat as substrate for energy and reduced body fat mass in rats.

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