Ceruloplasmin

Written by Darla Burke | Published on July 16, 2012
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP

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 important bodily processes, including producing energy, forming connective tissue, helping the central nervous system function, and more.

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

Why Is the Test Ordered?

Your doctor may order a ceruloplasmin test if you have symptoms of Wilson’s disease. Wilson’s disease is a rare genetic disorder. It 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 and can cause the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • skin rash
  • nausea
  • joint pain
  • drooling
  • bruising easily
  • loss of appetite
  • anemia
  • changes in behavior
  • difficulty controlling movement or walking

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

How Is the Test Administered?

The ceruloplasmin test is typically administered by a nurse or lab technician in a clinical setting. You will be required to provide a blood sample.

The blood sample is usually 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
  • development of infection where the skin is broken by the needle

Preparing for the Test

There is usually no special preparation required for the ceruloplasmin test. Ask your doctor if there is 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 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood). 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 (cirrhosis)
  • intestinal malabsorption (problems absorbing nutrients and other substances from the intestines), especially of protein
  • liver failure
  • malnutrition
  • Menkes syndrome: a hereditary metabolic disorder that affects copper levels in the body
  • nephrotic syndrome: 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 the presence of other health conditions including:

  • serious infections
  • lymphoma
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • pregnancy

It is important to note that the ceruloplasmin test is not typically used to diagnose these conditions.

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