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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Role of copper in Indian childhood cirrhosis.

Of the cirrhoses that affect Indian children, Indian childhood cirrhosis (ICC) is a discrete clinical and histologic entity in which large amounts of copper are deposited in the liver. The evidence linking copper deposition to increased dietary copper intake in infancy was reviewed. Prevention of this feeding pattern prevents ICC, and the disease has now largely disappeared from many parts of India. Penicillamine, if given before the terminal clinical stage of ICC, reduces mortality from 92% to 53%. Long-term survivors show a sequence of histologic resolution, resulting either in inactive micronodular cirrhosis or in virtually normal histologic appearance. Twenty-nine treated ICC patients reexamined at 8.8 y of age (range: 6.3-13 y), 5-12 y after diagnosis, were well and had normal results from liver function tests. Clinical and epidemiologic evidence show that there must be excessive copper ingestion for ICC to develop, but the lack of an animal model, the inconstant relation between liver copper concentrations and liver damage, and the rarity of liver disease in adults suggests that other etiologic factors contribute. Two mechanisms are discussed: 1) that copper may be acting in synergy with a hepatotoxin, or 2) that there may be a genetic predisposition to copper-associated liver damage, as suggested recently for Tyrollean childhood cirrhosis. Although ICC is now rare, sporadic cases of an ICC-like disorder in infants continue to occur. There should be a greater awareness among pediatricians of this disease to enable early diagnosis. Penicillamine should be used early and adverse prognostic factors recognized as indications for early transplantation and unregulated water supplies should not be used to prepare infant feeds.[1]


  1. Role of copper in Indian childhood cirrhosis. Tanner, M.S. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. (1998) [Pubmed]
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