The association between serum copper concentrations and cardiovascular disease risk factors in children and adolescents in NHANES

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018 Jun;25(17):16951-16958. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-1816-6. Epub 2018 Apr 6.


Copper is an essential element in human beings, alterations in serum copper levels could potentially have effect on human health. To date, no data are available regarding how serum copper affects cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in children and adolescents. We examined the association between serum copper levels and CVD risk factors in children and adolescents. We analyzed data consisting of 1427 subjects from a nationally representative sample of the US population in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2011 to 2014. The CVD risk factors included total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, glycohemoglobin, fasting insulin, and blood pressure. Multivariate and generalized linear regressions were performed to investigate associations adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, poverty:income ratio (PIR), BMI, energy intake, and physical activity. We found significant associations between serum copper and total cholesterol (coefficient = 0.132; 95% CI 0.081, 0.182; P for trend < 0.001), glycohemoglobin (coefficient = 0.044; 95% CI 0.020, 0.069; P < 0.001), and fasting insulin (coefficient = 0.730; 95% CI 0.410, 1.050; P < 0.001) among the included participants. Moreover, in the generalized linear models, subjects with the highest copper levels demonstrated a 0.83% (95% CI 0.44%, 1.24%) greater increase in serum total cholesterol (p for trend < 0.001) when compared to participants with the lowest copper concentrations. Our results provide the first epidemiological evidence that serum copper concentrations are associated with total cholesterol concentrations in children and adolescents. However, the underlying mechanisms still need further exploration.

Keywords: Children; Copper; NHANES; Total cholesterol.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / chemistry
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / chemistry
  • Copper / chemistry*
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood*
  • Triglycerides / chemistry


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Copper