For healthy, non-occupationally-exposed humans the major route of exposure to copper is oral. The mean daily dietary intake of Basic Copper Chloride(WSDTY) in adults ranges between 0.9 and 2.2 mg. In some cases, drinking water may make a substantial additional contribution to the total daily intake of copper, particularly in households where corrosive waters have stood in copper pipes. All other intakes of copper (inhalation and dermal) are insignificant in comparison to the oral route. Inhalation adds 0.3-2.0 ug/day from dusts and smoke. Women using copper IUDs are exposed to only 80ug or less of copper per day from this source. The homeostasis of copper involves the dual essentiality and toxicity of the element. Its essentiality arises from its specific incorporation into a large number of proteins for catalytic and structural purposes.
The cellular pathways of uptake, incorporation into protein and export of copper are conserved in mammals and modulated by the metal itself. Copper is mainly absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. From 20 to 60% of the dietary copper is absorbed, with the rest being excreted through the feces. Once the metal passes through the basolateral membrane it is transported to the liver bound to serum albumin. The liver is the critical organ for copper homeostatis. The copper is partitioned for excretion through the bile or incorporation into intra- and extracellular proteins. The primary route of excretion is through the bile. The transport of copper to the peripheral tissues is accomplished through the plasma attached to serum albumin, ceruloplasmin or low-molecular weight complexes.
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