Review of Copper Provision in the Parenteral Nutrition of Adults

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The essential trace element copper (Cu) is required for a range of physiologic processes, including wound healing and functioning of the immune system. The correct amount of Cu must be provided in parenteral nutrition (PN) if deficiency and toxicity are to be avoided. While provision in line with the standard recommendations should suffice for most patients, Cu requirements may be higher in patients with increased gastrointestinal losses and severe burns and lower in those with cholestasis. The tests of Cu status that are currently available for clinical use are unreliable. Serum Cu concentration is the most commonly ordered test but is insensitive to Cu deficiency and toxicity and is misleadingly increased during the acute phase response. These limitations make it difficult for prescribers to assess Cu status and to decide how much Cu to provide. There is a need for better tests of Cu status to be developed to decrease uncertainty and improve individualization of Cu dosing. More information is needed on Cu requirements in disease and Cu contamination of PN components and other intravenous fluids. New multi–trace element products should be developed that provide Cu doses in line with the 2012 American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition recommendations. This article discusses the evaluation and treatment of Cu deficiency and toxicity in patients treated with PN.

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