The copper-iron connection: hereditary aceruloplasminemia

Semin Hematol. 2002 Oct;39(4):282-9. doi: 10.1053/shem.2002.35633.


Hereditary aceruloplasminemia is an autosomal recessive disorder of iron homeostasis due to loss-of-function mutations in the ceruloplasmin gene. Affected individuals may present in adulthood with evidence of hepatic iron overload, diabetes, peripheral retinal degeneration, dystonia, dementia, or dysarthria. Laboratory studies demonstrate microcytic anemia, elevated serum ferritin, and a complete absence of serum ceruloplasmin ferroxidase activity. Consistent with the observed neurologic findings, magnetic resonance imaging reveals iron accumulation within the basal ganglia. Histologic studies detect abundant iron in hepatocytes, reticuloendothelial cells of the liver and spleen, beta cells of the pancreas, and astrocytes and neurons throughout the central nervous system. Characterization of this disorder reveals an essential role for ceruloplasmin in determining the rate of iron efflux from cells with mobilizable iron stores and provides new insights into the mechanisms of human iron metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ceruloplasmin / deficiency*
  • Ceruloplasmin / genetics
  • Ceruloplasmin / physiology
  • Copper / metabolism*
  • Family Health
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Metal Metabolism, Inborn Errors / enzymology*
  • Metal Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics
  • Metal Metabolism, Inborn Errors / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / enzymology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology


  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Ceruloplasmin