The concentrations of copper and zinc in plasma, blood cells, liver and kidneys were determined in a study performed on normal female rats, and in female rats with carrageenan induced pleurisy. In the normal rat, the total amount of both metals increases, from 51 to 79 days of age, in all the compartments examined. This increase was mostly, and in some case exclusively, dependent upon the growth of the animal, although high individual and day to day variations in both copper and zinc values were observed in all the compartments studied. In the blood of inflamed rats a statistically significant increase in copper was measured during the crucial hours of the experiment (i.e. from 6 to 72 h); over 90% of the increase found was attributable to variations in plasma copper concentration values. In the liver of inflamed rats a statistically significant increase in zinc was measured at 6, 22 and 48 h after the carrageenan injection. The induction of the acute non-infective inflammatory process did not cause quantitative changes of both copper and zinc in all the other compartments considered in the present study. These results seem to suggest that, during acute inflammation, the organism increases its requirement for copper and zinc, and that this demand is fulfilled by enhanced intestinal absorption and/or decreased intestinal excretion of both metals.
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