Ceruloplasmin is a protein manufactured in the liver whose main role is to transport copper between the liver where it is stored to the tissues that need it. Copper is an essential element of life (oligoelement), but it is toxic in high doses. Excess copper stocks are disposed of in the intestine through bile. Blood copper is removed through the urine. Measuring the amount of ceruloplasmin is usually prescribed with a blood or urine copper test to help diagnose Wilson’s disease, a hereditary disease that interferes with copper removal in bile and results in toxic accumulation of the metal in the tissues. The test may also be useful in other situations (copper poisoning, copper deficiency, Menkes disease).
Ceruloplasmin and high blood or urinary copper indicate copper poisoning. Ceruloplasmin and low copper levels are found in copper deficiencies and Menkes disease. In Wilson’s disease, levels of ceruloplasmin are most often low while levels of urinary and serum copper are high. Ceruloplasmin is an “acute-phase” protein. Elevations can therefore be observed in individuals suffering from inflammation, severe infections, etc.