A penny for our thoughts? Copper influx key to brain cell development
on 29 August 2021
copper the element of thought transmission

While the markets suffer and the price of commodities fluctuates more than the temperature of an English summer, it seems that one (precious) metal, copper, is proving to be priceless to who we are and how we develop! Want to find out 12 natural sources of copper for your diet? Then you can find them here

There's more to copper than pipes and coins!

While the research is predominantly about the developing brain, copper plays a crucial role in the functioning of the developed brain too, the type reading this article! The brain uses and regulates the use of copper, a mineral that is essential to proper brain function. Too much is bad and not enough might be worse! This is because the brain cannot make copper but it can regulate the amount within cells. So, it can only respond by modulating excesses, it just cannot function properly with too little. Copper is essential in the production of certain enzymes, neurotransmitters and keeping oxidative stress at bay, we literally could not function without copper. And since the brain cannot synthesize it, it can only be obtained through our diet. While we only need minute traces on a daily basis, the brain has unique ways of sorting and eliminating over-supply. While the brain is literally a pharmacy, our problem is that we are not pharmacists. So, we have to maintain a well balanced and well-regulated diet, one that is sufficient to provide the pharmacy with all the ingredients needed to do its job. This is similar to the concept of a kitchen, with several essential ingredients, the skilful chef can make a vast array of culinary delights. However, too much of one ingredient (salt) or too little of another (sugar) can drastically change the taste of the meal. In our body, sugar (glucose) and salt (sodium) play a crucial role in the whole chemistry of the brain and body! Copper plays a crucial role in some of the stabilising processes in our brain!

Since certain Redox processes (ROS - free radicals) are involved in the oxidative processes of our chemical factory the one thing we can do to help is by creating calm and peaceful states of mind and body. When we talk about stress, we are mostly referring to psychological stress. However, oxidative (environmental) stress is also a game-changer and more often than not, we are experiencing a combination of different types of stressors. Such as psychological stress, oxidative stress, metabolic stress, osmotic stress and heat shock/stress. Of course, stress is not always bad, in fact, stress can be described as the body's response to any load placed upon it. This is referred to as allostasis, allostatic-load and allostatic-overload. Allostasis is the consequence of the body's response to difference, as opposed to homeostasis, maintaining balance through sameness. If we are sitting down and get up, climb the stairs to use the bathroom, allostasis allows the body to respond to the extra load. Once we get back in the chair, homeostasis establishes our normal body function, e.g. 60 beats a minute, 120/80 BP, 36' centigrade etc. 

However, if we face too much stress, our allostatic load increases and it becomes more difficult to reestablish normal stasis (equilibrium). Too much stress, over extended periods and varying levels of duration, eventually creates a disorder. When a disordered state abounds, our normal daily activity becomes more challenging and that eventually leads to neural dysfunction. Neural dysfunction can take the form of mental anomalies, e.g. stress, anxiety or physical dysfunction, IBS, eczema, organ problems, and at extremes, perhaps the onset of unpleasant things like cancer. At the top, there is a link that gives information about ways in which we can add copper (in food) to our diet, the key is moderation! While we have to pay attention to the physical aspects of dietary control, hypnosis can help in processing the mental side.

In this sense, hypnotherapy can be very useful, because of its ability to communicate at the level of the subconscious brain, therefore, bypassing the cognitive elements of consciousness. If you would like to discover more about how our adult brain corrupts our child's brain, maybe you can consider booking an appointment for a free consultation? This can be done via a face to face meeting or Skype, Zoom or Teams, all can be equally efficacious!

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - go here or, to book your Free Consultation today, you can do that here

The Research:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have used a precision sensor in a chicken embryo to find dramatic differences in the use of copper between developing and fully mature neurons.

In a report published online today in Nature Communications, the investigators say their findings reveal how brain cells quickly adjust copper allocation from a predominant use in energy production and defence against free radicals to use in activating enzymes that make neurons.

"Biochemical studies had shown that many proteins involved in neural differentiation require copper, and we also knew there is a big spike in the brain's copper levels at a certain stage of development," says Svetlana Lutsenko, PhD, professor of physiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "With these new results, we now know a lot more about how developing neurons use copper for their various needs."

Yuta Hatori, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow on Lutsenko's team, used a protein sensor that changes its fluorescence to signal the so-called redox state of cells, which refers to the ability of molecules to exchange electrons, driving many processes. Cells control their internal redox states by precisely tuning the ratio of two small molecules: glutathione and glutathione disulphide. Working with colleagues in the school of medicine's Department of Neuroscience and led by Shanthini Sockanathan, D.Phil., a professor in the department, the team infected chicken embryos at different stages of development with a gene encoding a tiny sensor and found that the redox state of neurons that control movement changes as they mature.

Delving deeper, Lutsenko says, they found that one effect of the changed redox state was to expose the copper-binding site on a protein called Atox-1, which shuttles the metal around the cell. Differentiating cells also turned out to make more Atox-1 and a related protein, ATP7A, another copper transporter that works together with Atox-1 to direct copper into a "secretory pathway." The net effect was increased copper supply to the copper-requiring enzyme responsible for signalling between neurons.

The importance of getting copper to the right place in the cell at the right time may shed light on processes beyond development, Lutsenko says. For example, ageing is known to wear on cells' precision control of their redox states. "Our study suggests that small redox changes may have big effects on proteins in the secretory pathway, which are very important for brain function," she says.

Armed with a better understanding of how normal neurons use copper, Lutsenko's team plans to look next at what happens when that process goes wrong, using cells from patients with a copper-processing disorder known as Wilson disease.

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
1. Yuta Hatori, Ye Yan, Katharina Schmidt, Eri Furukawa, Nesrin M. Hasan, Nan Yang, Chin-Nung Liu, Shanthini Sockanathan, Svetlana Lutsenko. Neuronal differentiation is associated with a redox-regulated increase of copper flow to the secretory pathway. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 10640 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10640