Greater circulating copper concentrations and copper/zinc ratios are associated with lower psychological distress, but not cognitive performance in a sample of australian older adults

Michelle Mravunac, Ewa A. Szymlek-Gay, Robin M. Daly, Blaine R. Roberts, Melissa Formica, Jenny Gianoudis, Stella L. O'connell, Caryl A. Nowson, Barbara R. Cardoso

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Dyshomeostasis of copper and zinc is linked to neurodegeneration. This study investigated the relationship between circulating copper and zinc and copper/zinc ratios and cognitive function, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and neurotrophic factors in older Australian adults. In this cross-sectional study (n = 139), plasma copper, serum zinc, and neurotrophic factors (brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), vascular endothelial growth factor, and insulin-like growth factor-1) were assessed. Cognition was assessed using the Cogstate battery and the Behavior Rating Inventory (BRI) of Executive Function (Adult version). Symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Copper (β = −0.024; 95% CI = −0.044, −0.004; p = 0.019) and copper/zinc ratio (β = −1.99; 95% CI = −3.41, −0.57; p = 0.006) were associated with lower depressive symptoms, but not cognition. Plasma copper had a modest positive association with BDNF (β = −0.004; 95% CI = 0.000, 0.007; p = 0.021). Zinc was not associated with any of the outcomes. In conclusion, greater circulating copper concentrations and higher copper/zinc ratio were associated with lower depressive symptoms (but not cognition), with copper also inversely associated with BDNF concentration, in a sample of community-dwelling older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2503
Number of pages14
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Anxiety
  • Cognition
  • Copper
  • Copper/zinc
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Neurotrophic factors
  • Zinc

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