To evaluate copper, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and other indices of peroxidative status in diabetic and nondiabetic human subjects.

Research Design and Methods

Convenience sample of 57 insulin-dependent or non-insulin-dependent diabetic subjects recruited from the diabetes clinic of the University of California, Davis, Medical Center and 28 nondiabetic subjects recruited from the staffs of the Departments of Internal Medicine and Nutrition. Individuals conducting laboratory analyses were blind to subject group. A fasting blood sample was collected from all subjects and appropriately processed for future analyses. A 24-h urine collection was obtained in a subset of subjects.


Hyperzincuria and hypermagnesuria were evident in diabetic subjects compared with control subjects. There were no differences in plasma magnesium or whole-blood manganese between groups. Plasma copper was higher and plasma zinc was lower in diabetic than in control subjects. When data were viewed with respect to specific diabetes-associated complications, diabetic subjects with retinopathy, hypertension, or microvascular disease had higher plasma copper concentrations compared with both diabetic subjects without complications and with control subjects. There were no significant differences between control and diabetic subjects in erythrocyte copper-zinc superoxide dismutase activity or whole-blood glutathione peroxidase or glutathione reductase activities. Plasma peroxide concentrations were higher in diabetic than control subjects.


Diabetes can alter copper, zinc, magnesium, and lipid peroxidation status. Perturbations in mineral metabolism are more pronounced in diabetic populations with specific complications. It is not known whether differences in trace element status are a consequence of diabetes, or alternatively, whether they contribute to the expression of the disease.

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