Copper toxicity damages mitochondria of brain cells through oxidative, nitrosative stress

Monday, February 03, 2014 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: copper toxicity, brain cells, oxidative stress

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) Scientists have linked copper to the development of numerous brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, prion conditions such as mad cow disease, and Wilson's disease. Although it remains unclear exactly what role copper plays in such brain damage, at least one study suggests that the mineral's oxidative properties may be partly to blame.

Copper is a trace mineral that is essential for health in small quantities. In appropriate amounts, it is critical for the health of bones, red blood cells, blood vessels, nerves and the immune system. In higher doses, however, it is known to act as a neurotoxin.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Miami and published in the journal Laboratory Investigation in 2008. The researchers exposed two different types of brain cells, astrocytes and neurons, to copper and then examined the cells to see if the permeability of their mitochondria had been impaired.

Most of the damage observed occurred in astrocytes, rather than neurons. While neurons are the brain cells that transmit messages, astrocytes are actually the most common cells in the brain. They play many critical roles, including repairing brain damage and scarring and supporting the health of the blood-brain barrier, which keeps toxins out of the brain.

The researchers found that 12 hours after copper exposure, astrocytes underwent a 36 percent reduction in the inner mitochondrial membrane potential (Delta Psi m), a marker of the mitochondrial permeability transition (mPT). 24 hours after copper exposure, Delta Psi m had been reduced by 48 percent, and it did not recover for at least 72 hours. Cobalt quenching of calcein fluorescence, another marker of mPT, decreased by 45 percent within 24 hours of copper exposure.

Notably, nearly all this damage was prevented when the astrocytes were pre-treated with antioxidants. This suggests that many of the changes observed were due to oxidative damage.

Antioxidants prevent brain cell death

The researchers also found that, 24 hours after exposure, astrocytes had 30 percent lower levels of the energy-transporting chemical ATP. This effect was completely blocked, however, when the astrocytes were treated with the drug cyclosporin A (CsA).

CsA is an immunosuppressant drug that has recently been investigated for the ability to protect the nervous system in cases of traumatic brain injury. Studies suggest that the drug prevents the formation of mPT pores, which have been linked to brain damage in cases of both injury and neurodegenerative disease.

Finally, copper exposure actually killed 42 percent of astrocytes within 48 hours. CsA reduced this mortality by 41 percent, while antioxidants reduced it by between 35 and 60 percent.

While neurons did not experience mPT in response to copper exposure the way that astrocytes did, they still tended to die upon exposure. In addition, their ATP levels were reduced 63 percent within 14 hours of exposure. CsA had no effect in protecting neurons from copper-induced mortality, but antioxidants and drugs known as nitric oxide synthase inhibitors were successful in doing so.

Finally, protein tyrosine nitration - an effect similar to oxidation, but caused by nitrogen-containing compounds instead of oxygen-containing ones - increased in both astrocytes and neurons upon copper exposure

"These studies indicate that mPT, and oxidative and nitrosative stress represent major factors in copper-induced toxicity in astrocytes," the researchers wrote, "whereas oxidative and nitrosative stress appears to play a major role in neuronal injury."

Another recent study, conducted by researchers from the University of Rochester, found that copper may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease even at exposure levels found in the normal U.S. diet. They found that copper damaged the blood-brain barrier, induced inflammation and accelerated the buildup of toxic amyloid-beta proteins.

Sources for this article include:

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.

Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...


Now Available at

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...


Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...


Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at

Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source:

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.