Ceruloplasmin Test

A ceruloplasmin test is a blood test to check your ceruloplasmin levels. Ceruloplasmin is a protein your liver makes. It binds to copper and carries it throughout your body. If you have low ceruloplasmin, it can point to a genetic condition called Wilson disease, a copper deficiency or other medical conditions.


What is a ceruloplasmin test?

A ceruloplasmin test is a blood test to measure your ceruloplasmin levels.

Ceruloplasmin is a protein your liver makes. It helps copper circulate throughout your body and plays an important role in making ingested iron ready for transport from your intestines to other sites for storage. You need copper to help maintain energy and bone health. It also helps your body make the substance that gives your skin pigment (melanin).


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What is the purpose of a ceruloplasmin test?

Usually, your healthcare provider orders a ceruloplasmin test if they suspect you might have a genetic condition called Wilson disease. Wilson disease keeps your body from transporting copper effectively. If you have Wilson disease, you’ll likely have lower-than-normal levels of copper in your blood, but higher-than-normal levels of copper in your urine.

You may also have a ceruloplasmin test to diagnose conditions that cause low copper (copper deficiency). You may have a copper deficiency because of:

  • Malabsorption, when your body doesn’t absorb nutrients properly.
  • Malnutrition, when your diet doesn’t include enough nutrients.
  • Menkes disease, a rare genetic condition where your body doesn’t absorb copper properly.
  • Total parenteral nutrition, when you get all food and nutrients intravenously (through an IV).
  • High levels of dietary zinc, which competes for absorption of copper in the intestines.

Why might I need a ceruloplasmin test?

You may need a ceruloplasmin test if you have a family history of Wilson disease. You may also need the test if you have symptoms of Wilson disease, including:

Your healthcare provider may also test your ceruloplasmin levels if you have symptoms of copper deficiency, such as:


Why might a baby need a ceruloplasmin test?

Babies or young children who have symptoms of Menkes disease may need a ceruloplasmin test. Babies who show symptoms of Menkes disease should have the ceruloplasmin test within the first month of life. Early treatment can improve outcomes and reduce the risk of severe developmental delays.

Symptoms of Menkes disease include:

  • Brittle or tangled hair.
  • Difficulty feeding.
  • Failure to develop muscle tone.
  • Lack of growth (failure to thrive).
  • Seizures.

Test Details

How does a ceruloplasmin test work?

A ceruloplasmin test is a blood test, where your healthcare provider:

  1. Inserts a small needle into your arm vein.
  2. Collects a vial of blood.
  3. Removes the needle and places cotton and a bandage over the area.

If your healthcare provider needs to take a blood sample from your baby, they’ll draw blood from a vein in their hand or arm. Ceruloplasmin tests are relatively painless for most people. They usually last fewer than five minutes.

If you feel anxious or fear around needles (trypanophobia), tell your healthcare professional giving the test. It may help to look away from the needle, practice deep breathing or lie down.

During a ceruloplasmin test, experts often analyze a part of the blood called plasma, the liquid part of your blood.

To get plasma, a healthcare provider separates the blood sample in a process called spinning (using a centrifuge). Spinning separates your blood into parts that a healthcare provider analyzes.


How do I prepare for a ceruloplasmin test?

There’s no special preparation for a ceruloplasmin test. In general, drinking plenty of water before a blood test can help a blood draw go more smoothly. Staying hydrated keeps your veins from tightening (constricting) and reduces blood pressure changes.

What are the risks of a ceruloplasmin test?

Like other blood draws, ceruloplasmin tests have few risks. You might have mild soreness, redness or bruising where the needle was in your arm. Usually, these symptoms go away within 24 hours.

Results and Follow-Up

What do the results of a ceruloplasmin test mean?

A ceruloplasmin blood test shows whether you have low, average or high ceruloplasmin levels. Combined with other health factors, the result can help your healthcare provider find the cause of symptoms you’re experiencing.

What does low ceruloplasmin mean?

Low ceruloplasmin levels may mean that your body isn’t using copper efficiently. It could point to:

Sometimes, low ceruloplasmin points only to a copper deficiency and not an underlying disease.

What does high ceruloplasmin mean?

High ceruloplasmin levels could mean you have irregularly high levels of copper. This can be a sign of:

Keep in mind that you can have high ceruloplasmin levels without having a medical condition. Pregnancy and birth control pills can both lead to high ceruloplasmin. Ceruloplasmin levels may also increase because of inflammation, infection or injury.

What can I expect after a ceruloplasmin test?

Depending on the test results, your healthcare provider may recommend more tests to diagnose or rule out medical conditions. You may have urine tests, more blood tests or tests that check your liver function.

In rare cases, your healthcare provider may perform an operation to get a tissue sample from your liver and analyze it in a lab (liver biopsy). Liver biopsies may give more information about liver damage and copper levels. A liver biopsy can help diagnose Wilson disease, too.

When should I call my doctor?

Call your healthcare provider if you have signs of a possible copper deficiency, including:

  • Brittle or weak bones that break easily.
  • Chronic (long-lasting) fatigue.
  • Loss of sensation or tingling in your feet or hands.
  • Pale or washed-out skin.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A ceruloplasmin test measures ceruloplasmin levels in your blood. Ceruloplasmin is a protein that binds to copper and helps it move throughout your body. If you have low ceruloplasmin, it can point to conditions like copper deficiency, Wilson disease, rheumatoid arthritis or Menkes disease. Ceruloplasmin tests are blood tests, which typically take fewer than five minutes and have a low risk of complications.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 11/24/2021.

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