Serum copper, zinc and selenium levels in Tunisian patients with Parkinson's disease

Tunis Med. 2013 Jun;91(6):402-5.


Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. The etiology of this disease is still not fully clear, but free radicals have been proposed to cause neuronal injury. Metals play a key role in the intracellular oxidative balance. However their implication in the degeneration process remains unknown.

Aim: To assess Cu, Zn and Se concentrations in serum of a group of PD patients in order to determinate, in comparison with age-matched controls, whether alteration in their levels could be involved in PD.

Methods: A serum level of 3 trace elements (Cu, Zn and Se) was investigated in 48 patients with PD and 36 matched controls using plasma atomic absorption spectrometry. We compared these parameters in PD patients with controls, and we also compared the variations within the PD group according to age, illness duration, stage of the disease and levodopa intake.

Results: Patients with PD had significantly lower Cu levels compared to controls. The mean Zn and Se levels in PD patients did not differ significantly from those of controls. Levodopa therapy, age, stage, and illness duration did not significantly influence the measured parameters.

Conclusion: These results suggest that a disturbance of the plasmatic rate of Cu could be a marker of PD or at least, a risk factor for the development of this disease. Although zinc participates to the reduction of oxidative stress and the antioxidant role of the selenium, their implication in the onset of PD is not clearly established. Perspectives for the future could include antioxidant therapy. For this reason, other prospective studies should be conducted on this subject to elucidate the implication of trace elements in PD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Copper / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / blood*
  • Selenium / blood*
  • Tunisia
  • Zinc / blood*


  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Zinc