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What Is a Ceruloplasmin Test?

Ceruloplasmin, a glycoprotein produced in the liver, carries or transports more than 95 percent of the copper in blood plasma.

Copper plays an important role in the body by aiding crucial bodily processes. These include producing energy, forming connective tissue, and helping your central nervous system function.

A ceruloplasmin test can determine the levels of ceruloplasmin in your body. It’s most often used in the diagnosis of Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder.

Why Is the Test Ordered?

Your doctor may order a ceruloplasmin test if you have the symptoms of Wilson’s disease. Wilson’s disease is a rare genetic disorder that causes too much copper to collect in the liver, brain, and other body tissues and organs.

Wilson’s disease is also known as hepatolenticular degeneration. It can cause the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes, which is called jaundice
  • a skin rash
  • nausea
  • joint pain
  • drooling
  • bruising easily
  • a loss of appetite
  • anemia
  • changes in behavior
  • difficulty controlling movement or walking

Your doctor will usually order the ceruloplasmin test along with other blood and urine copper tests to confirm your diagnosis. If you’ve already been diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, your doctor may order the ceruloplasmin test to determine if the treatment is working.

How Is the Test Administered?

For the ceruloplasmin test, you’ll be required to provide a blood sample.

The blood sample is extracted through the arm by a needle. The blood will be collected in a tube and sent to a lab for analysis.

Once the lab reports the results, your doctor will be able to provide you with more information about the results and what they mean.

What Are the Risks of the Test

If you have a ceruloplasmin test, you may experience some discomfort when the blood sample is drawn. Needle sticks may result in mild pain during the test. Following the test, you may experience pain or throbbing at the puncture site.

In general, the risks of a ceruloplasmin test are minimal. These risks are common to most routine blood tests. Potential risks include:

  • difficulty obtaining a sample, resulting in multiple needle sticks
  • excessive bleeding at the puncture site
  • fainting as a result of blood loss
  • the accumulation of blood under the skin, known as a hematoma
  • the development of an infection where the skin is broken by the needle

Preparing for the Test

There’s usually no special preparation required for the ceruloplasmin test. Ask your doctor if there’s anything you need to do before the test.

Understanding the Results

The results of your ceruloplasmin test will vary based on the laboratory that completes the analysis of your blood. Talk to your doctor about your results and what they mean.

The normal range for ceruloplasmin in the blood is between 20 and 50 milligrams per deciliter. If your ceruloplasmin levels are lower than normal, it may indicate the presence of Wilson’s disease.

Other health problems may also cause your ceruloplasmin levels to be low. These include:

  • liver disease
  • liver failure
  • cirrhosis
  • intestinal malabsorption, which means difficulty absorbing nutrients and other substances from the intestines, especially protein
  • malnutrition
  • Menkes syndrome, which is a hereditary metabolic disorder that affects copper levels in the body
  • nephrotic syndrome, which is a variety of symptoms that include protein in the urine, low protein in the blood, high cholesterol levels, and high triglyceride levels

If your ceruloplasmin results are higher than normal, it may indicate:

  • you have a serious infection
  • you have lymphoma
  • you have rheumatoid arthritis
  • you’re pregnant

It’s important to note that the ceruloplasmin test isn’t typically used to diagnose these. It’s mostly used if someone has the symptoms of Wilson’s disease. If the test reveals any other abnormalities, your doctor will help interpret your results. Either way, they may want to do some follow-up testing.

Content licensed from:

Written by: Darla Burke
Medically reviewed on: Feb 25, 2016: Mark R Laflamme MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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