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Plasma Zinc and Copper in Obesity and after Intestinal Bypass

RICHARD L. ATKINSON, M.D., F.A.C.P.; WILLIAM T. DAHMS, M.D.; GEORGE A. BRAY, M.D., F.A.C.P.; ROBERT JACOB, Ph.D.; and HAROLD H. SANDSTEAD, M.D., F.A.C.P.
[+] Article and Author Information

Presented in part at the Second International Congress on Obesity, Washington, D.C., October 1977.

▸ Requests for reprints should be addressed to Richard L. Atkinson, M.D.; Endocrine Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Box 230, University of Virginia Hospital; Charlottesville, VA 22901.


Torrance, California; and Grand Forks, North Dakota


© 1978 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1978;89(4):491-493. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-89-4-491
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Plasma concentrations of zinc and copper were measured in 15 obese patients before intestinal bypass surgery, in 27 patients after intestinal bypass surgery, and in 52 lean control subjects. Preoperatively, the obese patients had zinc concentrations that were significantly lower than in the lean control subjects (76 ±3 versus 89 ±2 µg/dl) (± SEM) and copper levels that were significantly higher (147 ±10 versus 119 ±3 µg/dl). After intestinal bypass, plasma zinc and copper concentrations were significantly lower (zinc, 62 ±2 µg/dl; copper, 90 ±5 µg/dl; P < 0.001) than in prebypass patients. One patient developed leukopenia associated with a plasma copper concentration of 36 µg/dl. Leukocyte count and plasma copper level rose with oral copper sulfate replacement therapy. Intestinal bypass surgery may produce clinically significant decreases in plasma concentrations of zinc and copper. Careful observation and replacement therapy are indicated in all patients who develop deficiencies after intestinal bypass surgery.

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