Copper’s Role in Huntington’s Disease

Posted: March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Copper is an important trace element and plays a vital role to our overall health. It may play an even bigger role in maintaining our neurological health. Copper is found in every single cell of our bodies and plays a role in respiration, neurotransmitter biosynthesis, and connective tissue strength. Too little copper leads to incomplete development however, excess copper can have negative health consequences such as mitochondrial and DNA damage (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/3/855S.full).

Copper is found in abundance in the basal ganglia. Remember from previous articles this is where the GABA deficiency lies in HD and leads to chorea. It is interesting to note that copper is a “potent inhibitor of GABA-evoked responses in rat Purkinje cells” (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/3/855S.full). My question then is excess copper a cause for the chorea seen in HD?

Another interesting note is that glutathione may bond to copper to excrete it. If you haven’t read my previous post regarding oxidative stress and HD I recommend you read it now, https://geneticpotential.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/circadian-melotonin-and-huntingtons-disease/. Glutathione depletion may lead to excess copper, which may lead to an inhibition of GABA, which may lead to chorea. The depletion of glutathione may actually be the cause of numerous psychological disorders as excess oxidative stress is a major player in behavioral issues. I wrote about fixing glutathione levels here, https://geneticpotential.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/n-acetylcysteine-and-the-fight-against-oxidative-stress-in-huntingtons-disease/.

Copper and zinc need to be in balance. The proper ratio is .7 copper:1 zinc. Excess copper and deficient zinc are the norms in ADHD, depression, autism, and PMS. Research has used zinc finger ions to reduce the chromosomal expression of the Huntington gene. In the mouse model they experimented with there was a delay in the onset of symptoms (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010131358.htm). Copper and zinc balance seems to be an important factor in the development of the disease so how do we manage our balance?

There are blood tests that can be run to check the levels of both. It is also important to check the levels of vitamin B1, B3, B6, folate, inositol, and choline as they play a role in reducing copper. Stress depletes zinc levels. In fact zinc deficiency causes a reduction in glutathine (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009279703000875). Less glutathione can leave excess copper as it plays a role in removing copper from the system throwing our balance of the two way off.

Foods such as nuts, beans, seeds, grains, and chocolate all increase copper levels. These foods would be best avoided by those with the Huntington gene. Also, certain IUDs and birth control pills contain copper as well as some multivitamins. All of which should be avoided if you have the Huntington gene. A blood test to determine an imbalance and maintaining the proper .7:1 copper:zinc balance may be another way that the onset of symptoms can be delayed in this disease.

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