Serum zinc/copper ratio in subtypes of leprosy and effect of oral zinc therapy on reactional states

Int J Lepr Other Mycobact Dis. 1991 Mar;59(1):20-4.


Serum zinc and copper levels and zinc/copper ratios were studied in 86 healthy controls, 45 cases of borderline tuberculoid (BT), 31 cases of borderline lepromatous (BL), 117 cases of lepromatous (LL) leprosy patients, 16 cases with severe erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL) reaction, and 16 cases with ENL reaction receiving oral zinc therapy. A significant reduction in serum zinc levels was noticed in all types of leprosy, the maximum decrease being seen in cases with ENL reaction. Conversely, the copper levels were significantly increased from BT to LL cases with ENL reaction in a progressive manner. A very good negative correlation (r = -0.998) was noticed between mean serum zinc and copper levels from healthy controls to active LL cases with ENL reaction. After oral zinc therapy, the serum zinc levels were significantly increased in all of the 16 LL patients with ENL reaction. In contrast, the copper levels were not decreased, indicating that oral zinc therapy can restore normal zinc levels in leprosy patients but is unable to reduce the increased copper levels.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Copper / blood*
  • Erythema Nodosum / blood
  • Erythema Nodosum / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Leprosy / blood*
  • Leprosy / drug therapy
  • Leprosy, Borderline / blood
  • Leprosy, Lepromatous / blood
  • Leprosy, Lepromatous / drug therapy
  • Leprosy, Tuberculoid / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / blood*
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Copper
  • Zinc