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Copper and zinc in the serum, urine, and hair of patients with Wilson's disease treated with penicillamine and zinc.

The purpose of this study was to determine the different levels of copper and zinc in the serum, urine, and scalp hair of patients with Wilson's disease receiving different, currently accepted methods of treatment to reduce the copper load (penicillamine-group 1, n = 8; zinc-group 2, n = 8; penicillamine+zinc-group 3, n = 8). Blood, urine, and hair samples were collected from the patients. All three treatments resulted in a significant decrease of the serum copper levels. Significantly increased levels of zinc in the serum were detected in the patients in groups 2 and 3 (19.1 and 18.8 micromol/l, respectively; p < 0.05). Copper excretion in the urine significantly increased during its administration to groups 1 and 3 (11.5 and 7.94 micromol/24 h respectively; p < 0.001) due to the effect of penicillamine. The administration of zinc as monotherapy (group 2) or in combination with penicillamine (group 3) led to an increase of its excretion (25.3 and 22.4 micromol/24 h, respectively; p < 0.01). Only an insignificant rise of the copper content in the hair was found in all three groups of patients. The content of zinc in the hair did not differ significantly in any of the groups in comparison with the control group.

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