Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Cited by 234
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Davidson, Gloria I. and Mbah, Obioma B. 2016. Effect of Cooking Methods on the Nutrient, Phytochemical and Anti-Nutrient Composition of Raw Bread Fruit (Artocarpus communis) Pulp. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 15, Issue. 2, p. 99.

    Dogan, Hacer Coteli, Ebru and Karatas, Fikret 2016. Determination of Glutathione, Selenium, and Malondialdehyde in Different Edible Mushroom Species. Biological Trace Element Research,

    Huang, Yunmao Li, Wanyan Xu, Danning Li, Bingxin Tian, Yunbo and Zan, Linsen 2016. Effect of Dietary Selenium Deficiency on the Cell Apoptosis and the Level of Thyroid Hormones in Chicken. Biological Trace Element Research, Vol. 171, Issue. 2, p. 445.

    Ilham, I. and Fotedar, Ravi 2016. Growth, antioxidant capacity and muscle histochemistry of yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi Valenciennes 1883): Selenium and temperature interaction. Animal Feed Science and Technology, Vol. 217, p. 76.

    Ilham, Ilham Siddik, Muhammad Abu Bakar and Fotedar, Ravi 2016. Effects of Organic Selenium Supplementation on Growth, Accumulation, Haematology and Histopathology of Juvenile Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) Fed High Soybean Meal Diets. Biological Trace Element Research,

    Khan, N. Seshadri, B. Bolan, N. Saint, C.P. Kirkham, M.B. Chowdhury, S. Yamaguchi, N. Lee, D.Y. Li, G. Kunhikrishnan, A. Qi, F. Karunanithi, R. Qiu, R. Zhu, Y.-G. and Syu, C.H. 2016.

    Koketsu, Mamoru and R. Davis, Darrell 2016. An Efficient Synthesis of 2-Selenouridine and Its Phosphoramidite Precursor. HETEROCYCLES, Vol. 92, Issue. 1, p. 64.

    Luan, Yilin Zhao, Jinxin Yao, Haidong Zhao, Xia Fan, Ruifeng Zhao, Wenchao Zhang, Ziwei and Xu, Shiwen 2016. Selenium Deficiency Influences the mRNA Expression of Selenoproteins and Cytokines in Chicken Erythrocytes. Biological Trace Element Research, Vol. 171, Issue. 2, p. 427.

    Oliveira, Alfredo Ricardo Marques de Piovan, Leandro Simonelli, Fabio Barison, Anderson Santos, Maria de Fatima C. and de Mello, Murilo Belini Marcondes 2016. A 77Se NMR study of elemental selenium reduction using NaBH4. Journal of Organometallic Chemistry, Vol. 806, p. 54.

    Pedron, Tatiana Segura, Fabiana Roberta da Silva, Fabio Ferreira de Souza, Alexandre Luiz Maltez, Heloisa França and Batista, Bruno Lemos 2016. Essential and non-essential elements in Brazilian infant food and other rice-based products frequently consumed by children and celiac population. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Vol. 49, p. 78.

    Santos, Carla Adriana Fonseca, Jorge Carolino, Elisabete and Guerreiro, António Sousa 2016. Serum trace elements in dysphagic gastrostomy candidates before endoscopic gastrostomy for long term enteral feeding. Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 35, Issue. 3, p. 718.

    Tran, Phong A O’Brien-Simpson, Neil Reynolds, Eric C Pantarat, Namfon Biswas, Dhee P and O’Connor, Andrea J 2016. Low cytotoxic trace element selenium nanoparticles and their differential antimicrobial properties againstS.aureusandE. coli. Nanotechnology, Vol. 27, Issue. 4, p. 045101.

    Wang, Jing Li, Hairong Yang, Linsheng Li, Yonghua Wei, Binggan Yu, Jiangping and Feng, Fujian 2016. Distribution and translocation of selenium from soil to highland barley in the Tibetan Plateau Kashin-Beck disease area. Environmental Geochemistry and Health,

    Wang, Yachao Jiang, Li Li, Yuanfeng Luo, Xuegang and He, Jian 2016. Effect of Different Selenium Supplementation Levels on Oxidative Stress, Cytokines, and Immunotoxicity in Chicken Thymus. Biological Trace Element Research, Vol. 172, Issue. 2, p. 488.

    Wu, Cong Xu, Zheng and Huang, Kehe 2016. Effects of Dietary Selenium on Inflammation and Hydrogen Sulfide in the Gastrointestinal Tract in Chickens. Biological Trace Element Research,

    Xiao, Xue Yuan, Dong Wang, Yong-Xia and Zhan, Xiu-An 2016. The Protective Effects of Different Sources of Maternal Selenium on Oxidative Stressed Chick Embryo Liver. Biological Trace Element Research, Vol. 172, Issue. 1, p. 201.

    Xie, Wanling Yang, Ming Chan, June Sun, Tong Mucci, Lorelei A. Penney, Kathryn L. Lee, Gwo-Shu Mary and Kantoff, Philip W. 2016. Association of genetic variations of selenoprotein genes, plasma selenium levels, and prostate cancer aggressiveness at diagnosis. The Prostate, Vol. 76, Issue. 7, p. 691.

    Xu, Jing-Xiu Zhang, Cong Cao, Chang-Yu Zhu, Shi-Yong Li, Hui Sun, Yan-Chun and Li, Jin-Long 2016. Dietary Selenium Status Regulates the Transcriptions of Selenoproteome and Activities of Selenoenzymes in Chicken Kidney at Low or Super-nutritional Levels. Biological Trace Element Research, Vol. 170, Issue. 2, p. 438.

    Yang, Soo In George, Graham N. Lawrence, John R. Kaminskyj, Susan G. W. Dynes, James J. Lai, Barry and Pickering, Ingrid J. 2016. Multispecies Biofilms Transform Selenium Oxyanions into Elemental Selenium Particles: Studies Using Combined Synchrotron X-ray Fluorescence Imaging and Scanning Transmission X-ray Microscopy. Environmental Science & Technology,

    Bémeur, Chantal and Butterworth, Roger F. 2015. Reprint of: Nutrition in the Management of Cirrhosis and its Neurological Complications. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology, Vol. 5, p. S131.


Selenium, selenoproteins and human health: a review

  • KM Brown (a1) and JR Arthur (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 September 2007

Selenium is of fundamental importance to human health. It is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defence systems, and immune function. The decline in blood selenium concentration in the UK and other European Union countries has therefore several potential public health implications, particularly in relation to the chronic disease prevalence of the Western world such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Ten years have elapsed since recommended dietary intakes of selenium were introduced on the basis of blood glutathione peroxidase activity. Since then 30 new selenoproteins have been identified, of which 15 have been purified to allow characterisation of their biological function. The long term health implications in relation to declining selenium intakes have not yet been thoroughly examined, yet the implicit importance of selenium to human health is recognised universally.

Selenium is incorporated as selenocysteine at the active site of a wide range of selenoproteins. The four glutathione peroxidase enzymes (classical GP×1, gastrointestinal GP×2, plasma GP×3, phospholipid hydroperoxide GP×4)) which represent a major class of functionally important selenoproteins, were the first to be characterised.

Thioredoxin reductase (TR) is a recently identified seleno-cysteine containing enzyme which catalyzes the NADPH dependent reduction of thioredoxin and therefore plays a regulatory role in its metabolic activity.

Approximately 60% of Se in plasma is incorporated in selenoprotein P which contains 10 Se atoms per molecule as selenocysteine, and may serve as a transport protein for Se. However, selenoprotein-P is also expressed in many tissues which suggests that although it may facilitate whole body Se distribution, this may not be its sole function.

A second major class of selenoproteins are the iodothyronine deiodinase enzymes which catalyse the 5′5-mono-deiodination of the prohormone thyroxine (T4) to the active thyroid hormone 3,3′5-triiodothyronine (T3).

Sperm capsule selenoprotein is localised in the mid-peice portion of spermatozoa where it stabilises the integrity of the sperm flagella.

Se intake effects tissue concentrations of selenoprotein W which is reported to be necessary for muscle metabolism.

It is of great concern that the health implications of the decline in Se status in the UK over the past two decades have not been systematically investigated. It is well recognised that dietary selenium is important for a healthy immune response. There is also evidence that Se has a protective effect against some forms of cancer; that it may enhance male fertility; decrease cardiovascular disease mortality, and regulate the inflammatory mediators in asthma. The potential influence of Se on these chronic diseases within the European population are important considerations when assessing Se requirement.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Selenium, selenoproteins and human health: a review
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Selenium, selenoproteins and human health: a review
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Selenium, selenoproteins and human health: a review
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1K Schwartz , SM Foltz . Se as an integral part of factor 3 against necrotic liver degeneration. J. Mountain Chemical Society 1957; 79: 3292–3.

2SB Combs , GF Combs . The role of selenium in Nutrition. New York: Academic Press Inc, 1986.

4RF Burk , KE Hill . Regulation of Selenoproteins. Annual Review of Nutrition 1993; 13: 6581.

5JK Evenson , RA Sunde . Selenium incorporation into selenoproteins in the Se-adequate and Se-deficient rat. Proceedings of Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 1988; 187: 169–80.

6JT Rotruck , AL Pope , HE Ganther , AB Swanson , DG Hafeman , WG Hoekstra . Selenium: biochemical role as a component of glutathione peroxidase. Science 1973; 179: 588–90.

9F Ursini , M Maiorino , C. Gregolin The selenoenzyme phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1985; 839: 6270.

10G Bermano , F Nicol , JA Dyer , RA Sunde , GJ Beckett , JR Arthur , JE Hesketh . Tissue-specific regulation of selenoenzyme gene expression during selenium deficiency in rats. Biochem. J. 1995; 311: 425–30.

11F Weitzel , F Ursini , A. Wendel Phospholipid Hydroperoxide Glutathione Peroxidase in Various Mouse Organs During Selenium Deficiency and Repletion. Biochimica-et-Biophysica-Acta. 1990; 1036: 8894.

12HI Calvin , K Grosshans , SR Musicant-Shikora , SI Turner . A developmental study of rat sperm and testis selenoproteins. J. Reprod. Fertil. 1987; 81: 111.

15Q-A Sun , Y Wu , F Zappacosta , KT Jeang , BJ Lee , DL Hatfield , VN Gladyshev . Redox Regulation of Cell Signaling by Selenocysteine in Mammalian Thioredoxin Reductases. J. Biol. Chem. 1999; 274: 24522–30.

16A. Holmgren Thioredoxin and thrioredoxin reductase. Methods Enzymol. 1995; 252: 199208.

17MA Mostenbocker , AL Tappel . A selenocysteine containing seleniujm transport protein in rat plasma. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1982; 719: 147–53.

20O Olivieri , D Girrelli , M. Azzini Low selenium status in the elderly influences thyroid hormones. Clin. Sci. 1995; 89: 637–42.

21F Ursini , S Heim , M Kiess , M Maiorino , A Roveri , J Wissing , L. Flohe Dual function of the selenoprotein PHGPx during sperm maturation. Science 1999; 285: 1393–6.

22D Venzina , F Mauffette , KD Roberts . selenium vitamin E supplementation in infertile men. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 1996; 53: 6583.

25H Ishihara , F Kanda , T Matsushita , White muscle disease in humans: myopathy caused by selenium deficiency in anorexia nervosa under long term total parenteral nutrition. J. Neurol. Neurosur PS 1999; 67: 829–30.

26CE Casey , BE Guthrie , GM Friend . Selenium in human tissues from New Zealand. Arch. Environ. Health 1982; 37: 133–5.

27EB Thorling , K Overvad , A. Heerfordt Serum selenium in Danish blood bank donors. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 1985; 8: 6573.

28G Alfthan , J. Neve Reference values for serum selenium in various areas – Evaluated according to the TRACY protocol. Journal Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology 1996; 10: 7787.

32J Molnar , A MacPherson , I Barclay , P. Molnar Selenium content of convenience and fast foods in Ayrshire, Scotland International. Journal Food Sciences and Nutrition 1995; 46: 343–52.

33CT Shortt , GG Duthie , JD Robertson , PC Morrice , F Nicol , JR Arthur . Selenium studies of a group of Scottish adults. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 1997; 51: 15.

35KM Brown , K Pickard , F Nicol , G Duthie , G Beckett , JR Arthur . Effects of organic and inorganic selenium supplementation on selenoenzyme activity in blood lymphocytes, granulocytes, platelets and erythrocytes. Clin. Sci. 2000; 98: 593–9.

37MP Rayman . Dietary selenium: Time to act – Low bioavailability in Britain and Europe could be contributing to cancers, cardiovascular disease, and subfertility. Br. Med. J. 1997; 314: 387–8.

38A Roveri , M Maiorino , F. Ursini Enzymatic and immunological measurements of soluble and membrane- bound phospholipid-hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase. Methods Enzymol. 1994; 233: 202–12.

39EW Taylor . Selenium and cellular immunity – Evidence that selenoproteins may be encoded in the +1 reading frame overlapping the human CD4, CD8, and HLA-DR genes. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 1995; 49: 8595.

40L Kiremidjian-Schumacher , M Roy , HI Wishe , MW Cohen , G. Strotzky Supplementation with selenium and human immune cell functions. 2. Effect on cytotoxic lymphocytes and natural killer cells. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 1994; 41: 115–27.

41M Roy , L Kiremidjian-Schumacher , H Wishe , MW Cohen , G. Stotzy Supplementation with selenium and human immune cell functions 1. Effect on lymphocyte proliferation and interleukin 2 receptor expression. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 1994; 41: 103–14.

42LC Clark , GF Combs , BW Turnbull , EH Slate , DK Chalker , J Chow , LS Davis , RA Glover , GF Graham , EG Gross , A Krongrad , JL Lesher , HK Park , BB Sanders , CL Smith , JR Taylor . Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin: A randomized controlled trial. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 1996; 276: 1957–63.

43VN Gladyshev , KT Jeang , TC Stadtman . Selenocysteine, identified as the penultimate C-terminal residue in human T-cell thioredoxin reductase, corresponds to TGA in the human placental gene. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 1996; 93: 6146–51.

46JP Infante . Vitamin E and selenium participation in fatty acid desaturation: A proposal for an enzymatic function of these nutrients. Mol. Cell Biochem. 1986; 69(2): 93108.

47A Seaton , DJ Godden , K. Brown Increase in asthma: A more toxic environment or a more susceptible population. Thorax 1994; 49: 171–4.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *