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Ebselen, a multi-target compound: its effects on biological processes and diseases

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 September 2021

Qianqian Lu
The Central laboratory, The People’s Hospital of China Three Gorges University, 443002 Yichang, Hubei Province, China The Institute of Infection and Inflammation, Medical College, China Three Gorges University, 443002 Yichang, China
Yi Cai
The Central laboratory, The People’s Hospital of China Three Gorges University, 443002 Yichang, Hubei Province, China The Institute of Infection and Inflammation, Medical College, China Three Gorges University, 443002 Yichang, China
Chenyan Xiang
The Central laboratory, The People’s Hospital of China Three Gorges University, 443002 Yichang, Hubei Province, China
Tao Wu
Chongqing Academy of Animal Science, 408599 Chongqing, China
Ying Zhao
School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Southwest University, 400715 Chongqing, China
Jun Wang*
The Central laboratory, The People’s Hospital of China Three Gorges University, 443002 Yichang, Hubei Province, China
Helen Wang*
Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, 75123 Uppsala, Sweden
Lili Zou*
The Central laboratory, The People’s Hospital of China Three Gorges University, 443002 Yichang, Hubei Province, China The Institute of Infection and Inflammation, Medical College, China Three Gorges University, 443002 Yichang, China
Author for correspondence: Jun Wang, E-mail:; Helen Wang, E-mail:; Lili Zou, E-mail:
Author for correspondence: Jun Wang, E-mail:; Helen Wang, E-mail:; Lili Zou, E-mail:
Author for correspondence: Jun Wang, E-mail:; Helen Wang, E-mail:; Lili Zou, E-mail:


Ebselen is a well-known synthetic compound mimicking glutathione peroxidase (GPx), which catalyses some vital reactions that protect against oxidative damage. Based on a large number of in vivo and in vitro studies, various mechanisms have been proposed to explain its actions on multiple targets. It targets thiol-related compounds, including cysteine, glutathione, and thiol proteins (e.g., thioredoxin and thioredoxin reductase). Owing to this, ebselen is a unique multifunctional agent with important effects on inflammation, apoptosis, oxidative stress, cell differentiation, immune regulation and neurodegenerative disease, with anti-microbial, detoxifying and anti-tumour activity. This review summarises the current understanding of the multiple biological processes and molecules targeted by ebselen, and its pharmacological applications.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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