Tests relevant to pyrrole

Common adjunctive testing done alongside pyroluria

Your health care provider may request other tests when pyrrole disorder has been picked up. These may include some or all of the following:

  1. Caeruloplasmin – copper binding capacity (blood)
  2. Copper (via serum, plasma, red cell or hair analysis)
  3. Zinc (via serum, plasma, red cell or hair analysis)
  4. Zinc to Copper ratio -ideal is 10:1 – (blood or hair)
  5. Vit D (blood)
  6. Histamine levels (blood)
  7. Homocysteine (blood)
  8. B12 and folate levels  (blood)
  9. MMA (Methyl Malonic acid – more accurate indication of B12 – blood)
  10. MTHFR gene SNP defects (blood or oral swab)
  11. Other genetic testing (oral swab)
  12. Neurotransmitter testing (urine)
  13. Amino Acid testing (urine or blood)
  14. Thyroid and other hormone testing such as adrenal

Understanding Caeruloplasmin, copper and zinc

Caeruloplasmin is a protein made by your liver and its role is to carry copper via your blood plasma around your body to the tissues that need it. As well as being a major copper-carrying protein, Caeruloplasmin is also essential in effective iron metabolism. A deficiency of Caeruloplasmin is known as Aceruloplasminemia, and this issue crops up quite a bit with copper toxicity-related conditions.

A deficiency of Caeruloplasmin is strongly associated with copper toxicity and if left free and unbound, copper becomes a powerful free radical, resulting in oxidative stress, cell and tissue destruction, neurological degeneration, and a list of health-related issues. Some of these issues include:

  • Pyrrole disorder
  • Oestrogen dominance
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Liver toxicity
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Chronic candidiasis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • OCD
  • ADD & ADHD
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Perhaps one of the primary mechanisms through which copper toxicity can damage tissues is through oxidative stress and free radical formation. Free copper ions that are not bound to copper proteins such as Caeruloplasmin, are pro-oxidants, and are highly damaging.

While copper toxicity is a major cause for concern, it is something that can be effectively dealt with by powerful nutritional therapies and we need to also remember that Copper is a very important trace element that has many important roles in the body. These include:

  • Connective tissue formation
  • Nerve conduction
  • ATP synthesis
  • Iron metabolism
  • Brain health via neurotransmitter synthesis
  • Gene transcription
  • Synthesis of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase
  • Skin pigmentation
  • Nerve tissue: myelin sheath formation
  • Blood vessel formation

In a rare inherent disorder called Wilson disease, copper is not put into Caeruloplasmin and also keeps your liver from sending extra copper to be eliminated via your bowel movements so that copper then builds up in your liver until it overflows into the bloodstream which can then build up in your brain, corneas, kidneys, liver, bones, and small glands near the thyroid. If not treated, the liver and brain damage from copper poisoning can be fatal.

Whilst Wilson’s disease is a rare condition, there can be other situations where the copper is not fully bound to Caeruloplasmin and therefore toxically high levels of copper can be in the blood plasma with a concurrent copper deficiency at a cellular level. This can be balanced by addressing mineral and metal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances and healing any gut issues.

Lower-than-normal Caeruloplasmin levels may indicate:

  • Wilson disease – excess storage of copper (genetic)
  • Menkes disease (kinky hair syndrome- genetic)
  • Overdose of Vitamin C
  • Copper deficiency at a cellular level, but may have high plasma levels (check the difference between plasma and hair results)
  • Aceruloplasminemia – lack of Caeruloplasmin

Greater-than-normal Caeruloplasmin levels may indicate or be noticed in:

  • copper toxicity with zinc deficiency, common with over methylation
  • pregnancy, oral contraceptive pill use and hormonal imbalances incl adrenal
  • lymphomas
  • acute and chronic inflammation such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Angina
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Schizophrenia & Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Disturbances of copper metabolism are very common, but a true copper deficiency is relatively uncommon, perhaps affecting 5-10% of the population, but could potentially become an issue with the over use of zinc supplementation when treating pyroluria. The treatment for high copper is both molybdenum and zinc. Caeruloplasmin levels a usually comparable to hair copper levels, but it is good to test both hair and blood to see the relationship to each other.

The roles of Zinc in the body

Zinc and copper are antagonists, meaning that increasing one can lower the other. While zinc toxicity is possible, far more common is zinc deficiency and copper toxicity. Zinc is an essential trace element that activates several hundred enzymatic reactions that are fundamental to a healthy life. Some of the activities that zinc are involved in are:

  • DNA & RNA synthesis
  • Gene expression
  • Nervous system function
  • Immune function & immune signalling such as cell apoptosis
  • Neuronal transmission
  • Brain function
  • Zinc possesses powerful anabolic activities in the cells
  • Formation of zinc proteins known as “zinc fingers”
  • Zinc is essential for blood clotting and platelet formation
  • Zinc is involved in Vitamin A synthesis
  • Folate is made available through zinc enzyme reactions
  • Along with copper, Zinc makes up the antioxidant enzyme system, ZnCu superoxide dismutase
  • Steroidal hormone synthesis
  • Growth & development of children
  • Testosterone and semen formation
  • The highest concentration of zinc is found in the male prostate gland

Some Causes of Copper Toxicity

  • Genetic Mutations that negatively alter copper-transport proteins such as Caeruloplasmin (CP gene). Genetic mutations that influence or cause the development of Huntington’s (HTT gene) and Wilson’s (ATP7B copper transport gene)
  • Environmental Copper Toxicity. Sources include: Copper pipes, dental fillings, copper-contaminated foods, contaminated municipal drinking water containing copper sulphate as an anti-fungal, copper IUD’s, copper fungicides, copper cookware and jewellery. (Note: copper pipes combined with water softening or heating will increase the leaching of copper and other toxic metals by making water acidic).
  • Nutrient Deficiencies: vegetarian and vegan diets (tend to be high in copper and low in zinc), zinc deficiency, pyrrole disorder
  • Increased Oxidative Stress: Deficiencies in the expression of cellular antioxidants such as metallothionein and glutathione, both of which bind to free copper ions

Nutritional Solutions for Copper Toxicity

High doses of any one nutrient, has the capability of altering other important nutrients in the body due to their relationship to each other. It is important to understand that if you have copper toxicity, taking too many copper antagonists can actually result in a copper deficiency. Therefore it is important to be consulting with an experienced practitioner to support you in choosing the right supplement regime and monitor your levels.

The following nutrients are primarily used to antagonize copper:

  • Zinc
  • Molybdenum
  • Manganese
  • Arachadonic acid (omega 6)
  • Sulfur (sulfur amino acid cysteine is essential for the formation of glutathione and metallothionein, both of which bind to free copper)
  • Vitamin B-6

The following nutrients have been shown to protect against copper-induced oxidative damage:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Glutathione
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Beta Carotene
  • Polyphenols

In summary, copper toxicity is a major cause of concern, and is likely a key player in many of today’s major health imbalances and diseases. Zinc, copper and Caeruloplasmin screening tests are an inexpensive yet powerful way to monitor your levels, and from these, individualised nutritional therapies can be offered.

NutriPath Lab offer a ‘Pfeiffer Profile’ test code – 3415 which includes; Plasma Zinc, serum Copper, Caeruloplasmin, whole blood Histamine, Homocysteine, Vitamin D3, Zn:Cu ratio all for only $185.00 plus lab initiation fee of $20 if you have never used the lab before, plus the pathology blood collection fee which varies depending on the collection centre. For a kit to be organised for you, please contact the True Vitality clinic via the contact page and I can organise to send you the kit needed (plus any other kits)

Hair analysis of heavy metals, minerals and ratios (HMMT) can be done via hair kit which is available on the True Vitality Shop. You will need the pass-code ‘vitality’ to gain access. Please note that you are NOT able to purchase supplements until you have register as a client after a consultation, so please don’t use the code to buy products or your order will be blocked. Thank you.

More info to come on the other tests….