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Editorial
May 2004

Serum CopperA Biomarker for Alzheimer Disease?

Arch Neurol. 2004;61(5):631-632. doi:10.1001/archneur.61.5.631

Alzheimer disease (AD) is causally related to the buildup of β-amyloid (Aβ), a 39– to 43–amino acid protein, in the brain. Increasing evidence has implicated a biochemical association with copper in this neuropathologic condition. Copper is essential for life, mediating the activities of the respiratory chain of copper-binding proteins (cytochromes) in the mitochondria. Yet, the electron transfer chemistry of copper ion (Cu2+) also makes it potentially a pro-oxidant when it inappropriately reacts with oxygen (generating reactive oxygen species), proteins, or other biochemicals. For this reason, it is believed that copper ions in the cell are not in a free ionic chemical form, but rather are stringently transported and regulated by the action of several protein carriers, such as the Menkes and Wilson disease adenosine triphosphatases.

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