What is a ceruloplasmin test?
This test measures the amount of ceruloplasmin in your blood. Ceruloplasmin is a protein that is made in the liver. It stores and carries copper from the liver into the bloodstream and to the parts of your body that need it.
Copper is a mineral that is found in several foods, including nuts, chocolate, mushrooms, shellfish, and liver. It is important to many body functions, including building strong bones, producing energy, and making melanin (the substance that gives skin its color). But if you have too much or too little copper in your blood, it can be a sign of a serious health problem.
Other names: CP, ceruloplasmin blood test, ceruloplasmin, serum
What is it used for?
A ceruloplasmin test is most often used, along with copper testing, to help diagnose Wilson disease. Wilson disease is a rare genetic disorder that prevents the body from removing excess copper. It can cause a dangerous buildup of copper in the liver, brain, and other organs.
It may also be used to diagnose disorders that cause a copper deficiency (too little copper). These include:
- Malnutrition, a condition where you are not getting enough nutrients in your diet
- Malabsorption, a condition that makes it hard for your body to absorb and use the nutrients you eat
- Menkes syndrome, a rare, incurable genetic disease
In addition, the test is sometimes used to diagnose liver disease.
Why do I need a ceruloplasmin test?
Your health care provider may order a ceruloplasmin test if you have symptoms of Wilson disease. These include:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Abdominal pain
- Trouble swallowing and/or speaking
- Trouble walking
- Changes in behavior
You may also need this test if you have a family history of Wilson disease, even if you don’t have symptoms. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 5 and 35, but can show up earlier or later in life.
You may also have this test if you have symptoms of a copper deficiency (too little copper). These include:
- Pale skin
- Abnormally low levels of white blood cells
- Osteoporosis, a condition that causes weakening of bones and makes them prone to fractures
- Tingling in hands and feet
Your baby may need this test if he or she has symptoms of Menkes syndrome. Symptoms usually show up in infancy and include:
- Hair that is brittle, sparse, and/or tangled
- Feeding difficulties
- Failure to grow
- Developmental delays
- Lack of muscle tone
Most children with this syndrome die within the first few years of life, but early treatment may help some children live longer.
What happens during a ceruloplasmin test?
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?
You don’t need any special preparations for a ceruloplasmin test.
Are there any risks to the test?
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
What do the results mean?
A lower than normal level of ceruloplasmin may mean your body is not able to use or eliminate copper properly. It can be a sign of:
- Wilson disease
- Menkes syndrome
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
If your ceruloplasmin levels were higher than normal, it may be a sign of:
- A serious infection
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Hodgkin lymphoma
But high levels of ceruloplasmin may also be due to conditions that don’t need medical treatment. These include pregnancy and the use of birth control pills.
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Is there anything else I need to know about a ceruloplasmin test?
Ceruloplasmin tests are often done along with other tests. These include copper tests in blood and/or urine and liver function tests.