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Hear Res. 1993 May;67(1-2):45-50.

Effect of copper-deficient diet on metabolism in rat auditory structures.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo 43699-0008.


Copper is a trace element known to be critical for normal brain function, and abnormal copper metabolism has been associated with some disorders involving the auditory system. We examined effects of copper deficiency on metabolism in major structures of the auditory system. Homogenates of cochlea, cochlear nucleus and inferior colliculus of rats, as well as whole brain, were assayed for activities of enzymes of oxidative and glycolytic energy metabolism--malate and lactate dehydrogenase, enzymes of acetylcholine metabolism--choline acetyltransferase and acetylcholinesterase, and concentrations of amino acids. Whole brain was also assayed for activity of superoxide dismutase, a copper-containing enzyme, and concentrations of minerals. For these chemicals and tissues, the only significant differences between copper-deficient and copper-adequate rats were: (1) decreased copper and magnesium and increased potassium concentrations in whole brain of copper-deficient rats and (2) an elevation of glutamine concentration in inferior colliculus and whole brain of copper-deficient rats. The elevated glutamine could not be related to any change in activity of glutamine synthetase or glutaminase, major enzymes of glutamine metabolism. It is speculated that the increase in glutamine might result from a net increase in ammonia accumulation in the brains of copper-deficient rats.

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