From Science Daily:
A new study is further burnishing copper’s reputation as an essential nutrient for human physiology. A research team led by a scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and at the University of California, Berkeley, has found that copper plays a key role in metabolizing fat.
Long prized as a malleable, conductive metal used in cookware, electronics, jewelry and plumbing, copper has been gaining increasing attention over the past decade for its role in certain biological functions. It has been known that copper is needed to form red blood cells, absorb iron, develop connective tissue and support the immune system.
The new findings, to appear in the July print issue of Nature Chemical Biology but published online today, establishes for the first time copper’s role in fat metabolism.
The team of researchers was led by Chris Chang, a faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division, a UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Co-lead authors of the study are Lakshmi Krishnamoorthy and Joseph Cotruvo Jr, both UC Berkeley postdoctoral researchers in chemistry with affiliations at Berkeley Lab.
“We find that copper is essential for breaking down fat cells so that they can be used for energy,” said Chang. “It acts as a regulator. The more copper there is, the more the fat is broken down. We think it would be worthwhile to study whether a deficiency in this nutrient could be linked to obesity and obesity-related diseases.”