Selenium Abstracts 3


Decreased incidence of prostate cancer with selenium supplementation: results of a double-blind cancer prevention trial.
            (Clark et al., 1998) Download
OBJECTIVE:  To test if supplemental dietary selenium is associated with changes in the incidence of prostate cancer. PATIENTS AND METHOD:  A total of 974 men with a history of either a basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma were randomized to either a daily supplement of 200 microg of selenium or a placebo. Patients were treated for a mean of 4.5 years and followed for a mean of 6.5 years. RESULTS:  Selenium treatment was associated with a significant (63%) reduction in the secondary endpoint of prostate cancer incidence during 1983-93. There were 13 prostate cancer cases in the selenium-treated group and 35 cases in the placebo group (relative risk, RR=0.37, P=0.002). Restricting the analysis to the 843 patients with initially normal levels of prostate-specific antigen (< or = 4 ng/mL), only four cases were diagnosed in the selenium-treated group and 16 cases were diagnosed in the placebo group after a 2 year treatment lag, (RR=0.26 P=0.009). There were significant health benefits also for the other secondary endpoints of total cancer mortality, and the incidence of total, lung and colorectal cancer. There was no significant change in incidence for the primary endpoints of basal and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. In light of these results, the 'blinded' phase of this trial was stopped early. CONCLUSIONS:  Although selenium shows no protective effects against the primary endpoint of squamous and basal cell carcinomas of the skin, the selenium-treated group had substantial reductions in the incidence of prostate cancer, and total cancer incidence and mortality that demand further evaluation in well-controlled prevention trials.


Investigation of the selenium metabolism in cancer cell lines.
            (Lunøe et al., 2011) Download
The aim of this work was to compare different selenium species for their ability to induce cell death in different cancer cell lines, while investigating the underlying chemistry by speciation analysis. A prostate cancer cell line (PC-3), a colon cancer cell line (HT-29) and a leukaemia cell line (Jurkat E6-1) were incubated with five selenium compounds representing inorganic as well as organic Se compounds in different oxidation states. Selenomethionine (SeMet), Se-methylselenocysteine (MeSeCys), methylseleninic acid (MeSeA), selenite and selenate in the concentration range 5-100 μM were incubated with cells for 24 h and the induction of cell death was measured using flow cytometry. The amounts of total selenium in cell medium, cell lysate and the insoluble fractions was determined by ICP-MS. Speciation analysis of cellular fractions was performed by reversed phase, anion exchange and size exclusion chromatography and ICP-MS detection. The selenium compounds exhibited large differences in their ability to induce cell death in the three cell lines and the susceptibilities of the cell lines were different. Full recovery of selenium in the cellular fractions was observed for all Se compounds except MeSeA. Speciation analysis showed that MeSeA was completely transformed during the incubations, while metabolic conversion of the other Se compounds was limited. Production of volatile dimethyl diselenide was observed for MeSeA and MeSeCys. MeSeA, MeSeCys and selenite showed noticeable protein binding. Correlations between cell death induction and the Se compounds transformations could not be demonstrated.

Phase III trial of selenium to prevent prostate cancer in men with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia: SWOG S9917.
            (Marshall et al., 2011) Download
The threat of prostate cancer and the significant and often negative impact of its treatment underscore the importance of prevention. High-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) has been identified as a potential premalignant lesion marking an increased risk of prostate cancer and substantial evidence suggests that men with HGPIN are in need of prostate cancer prevention. In vitro, in vivo, epidemiologic, and clinical trial evidence that selenium supplementation protects against prostate cancer motivated the study we report here: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of selenium 200 (μg/d) as selenomethionine in men with HGPIN. The primary endpoint was progression of HGPIN to prostate cancer over a 3-year period. This National Cancer Institute Intergroup trial was coordinated by the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG). Of 619 enrolled patients, 423 randomized men with HGPIN (212 selenium and 211 placebo) were eligible (by central pathology review) and included in the primary analysis. Three-year cancer rates were 36.6% (placebo) versus 35.6% (selenium; P = 0.73, adjusted). The majority of patients who developed cancer on trial (70.8%, selenium and 75.5%, placebo) had a Gleason score of 6 or less than 6; there were no differences in Gleason scores between the two arms. Subset analyses included the finding of a nonsignificantly reduced prostate cancer risk (relative risk = 0.82; 95% CI: 0.40-1.69) in selenium versus placebo patients in the lowest quartile of baseline plasma selenium level (<106 ng/mL). Overall, and in all other subsets defined by baseline blood selenium levels, selenium supplementation had no effect on prostate cancer risk. The 36% prostate cancer rate in men with HGPIN indicates the association of this lesion with an elevated prostate cancer risk. Future study in this setting should focus on selenium-deficient populations and selenium pharmacogenetics.

Inhibitory effect of selenomethionine on the growth of three selected human tumor cell lines.
            (Redman et al., 1998) Download
Selenium supplementation has been shown for many years to work as an anticarcinogenic agent both in epidemiology and in in vitro studies. Selenium supplementation has recently been shown to decrease total cancer incidence. However, the mechanism of action of selenium as an anticarcinogenic agent has yet to be elucidated. Selenomethionine was the predominant form of selenium in the dietary supplement in the study by Clark et al. (Clark, L.C., Combs, G.F., Turnbull, W.B., Slate, E.H., Chalker, D.K., Chow, J., Davis, L.S., Glover, R.A., Graham, G.F., Gross, E.G., Krongrad, A., Lesher, J.L., Park, H.K., Sanders, B.B., Smith, C.L., Taylor, J.R. and The Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Study Group (1996) Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin: a randomized controlled trial. J. Am. Med. Assoc., 276 (24), 1957-1963) and therefore we evaluated the growth inhibitory effects of selenomethionine against human tumor cells. Selenomethionine was tested against each of three human tumor cell lines (MCF-7/S breast carcinoma, DU-145 prostate cancer cells and UACC-375 melanoma) and against normal human diploid fibroblasts. All cell lines demonstrated a dose-dependent manner of growth inhibition by selenomethionine. Selenomethionine inhibited the growth of all of the human tumor cell lines in the micromolar (microM) range (ranging from 45 to 130 microM) while growth inhibition of normal diploid fibroblasts required 1 mM selenomethionine, approximately 1000-fold higher than for the cancer cell lines. In short, normal diploid fibroblasts were less sensitive than the cancer cell lines to the growth inhibitory effects of selenomethionine. Furthermore, we show that selenomethionine administration to these cancer cell lines results in apoptotic cell death and aberrant mitoses. These results demonstrate the differential sensitivity of tumor cells and normal cells to selenomethionine.

Selenium status in elderly: relation to cognitive decline.
            (Rita Cardoso et al., 2014) Download
Studies show that decreased antioxidant system is related to cognitive decline. Thus we aimed to measure selenium (Se) status in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) elderly and compared them with a control group (CG). 27 AD, 17 MCI and 28 control elderly were evaluated. Se concentration was determined in plasma and erythrocyte by using hydride generation atomic absorption spectroscopy. Erythrocyte Se concentration in AD group was lower than CG (43.73±23.02μg/L and 79.15±46.37μg/L; p=0.001), but not statistically different from MCI group (63.97±18.26μg/L; p=0.156). AD group exhibited the lowest plasma Se level (34.49±19.94μg/L) when compared to MCI (61.36±16.08μg/L; p=0.000) and to CG (50.99±21.06μg/L; p=0.010). It is observed that erythrocyte Se decreases as cognition function does. Since erythrocyte reflects longer-term nutritional status, the data point to the importance of the relation between Se exposure and cognitive function. Our findings suggest that the deficiency of Se may contribute to cognitive decline among aging people.

The Association Between Serum Levels of Selenium, Copper, and Magnesium with Thyroid Cancer: a Meta-analysis.
            (Shen et al., 2015) Download
There are conflicting reports on the correlation between serum levels of selenium (Se), copper (Cu), and magnesium (Mg) with thyroid cancer. The purpose of the present study is to clarify the association between Se, Cu, and Mg levels with thyroid cancer using a meta-analysis approach. We searched articles indexed in PubMed published as of January 2015 that met our predefined criteria. Eight eligible articles involving 1291 subjects were identified. Overall, pooled analysis indicated that subjects with thyroid cancer had lower serum levels of Se and Mg, but higher levels of Cu than the healthy controls [Se: standardized mean difference (SMD) = -0.485, 95% confidence interval (95%CI) = (-0.878, -0.092), p = 0.016; Cu: SMD = 2.372, 95%CI = (0.945, 3.799), p = 0.001; Mg: SMD = -0.795, 95%CI = (-1.092, -0.498), p < 0.001]. Further subgroup analysis found lower serum levels of Se in thyroid cancer in Norway [SMD = -0.410, 95%CI = (-0.758, -0.062), p = 0.021] and Austria [SMD = -0.549, 95%CI = (-0.743, -0.355), p < 0.001], but not in Poland (SMD = -0.417, 95%CI = (-1.724, 0.891), p = 0.532]. Further subgroup analysis also found that patients with thyroid cancer had higher serum levels of Cu in China [SMD = 1.571, 95%CI = (1.121, 2.020), p < 0.001] and Turkey [SMD = 0.977, 95%CI = (0.521, 1.432), p < 0.001], but not in Poland [SMD = 3.471, 95%CI = (-0.056, 6.997], p = 0.054]. In conclusion, this meta-analysis supports a significant association between serum levels of Se, Cu, and Mg with thyroid cancer. However, the subgroup analysis found that there was significant effect modification of Se, Cu levels by ethnic, like China and Poland. Thus, this finding needs further confirmation by a trans-regional multicenter study to obtain better understanding of causal relationship between Se, Cu, and Mg with thyroid cancer of different human races or regions.

Differential apoptotic response of human cancer cells to organoselenium compounds.
            (Suzuki et al., 2010) Download
PURPOSE:  Selenium (Se) compounds are well known to inhibit cell proliferation and induce cell death in human cancer cells. Respective chemical forms of Se are intracellularly metabolized via complicated pathways, which target distinct molecules and exhibit varying degrees of anti-carcinogenicity in different cancer types; however, the precise mechanisms by which Se activates apoptosis remain poorly understood. METHODS:  The effects of Se compounds, Se-methylselenocysteine (MSC), selenomethionine (SeMet), and selenite on cell proliferation, apoptosis and its pathway in established human carcinoma cell lines (HSC-3, -4, A549, and MCF-7) were investigated. Cancer cells were treated with each Se compound during different periods. Cell apoptosis, caspase activity and ER stress markers were analyzed by flow cytometric or immunoblotting analysis, respectively. RESULTS:  We examined four cell lines for their sensitivity to MSC and SeMet in comparison with selenite. SeMet increased apoptotic cells in p53-positive A549 cells, whereas MSC increased apoptotic cells in p53-mutated HSC-3 cells. High activities of caspase-3, -8 and -9 were observed during apoptosis, and a pan-caspase inhibitor, z-VAD-fmk, rescued the cell viability of HSC-3 cells exposed to MSC. In addition, the occurrence of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was suggested by the observation that levels of phosphorylated eIF2alpha and caspase-12 activity are increased in Se-treated cells. Selenite and MSC were accompanied with the concurrent reduction of phosphorylated Akt levels, and the inhibitory effects of these Se compounds on vascular endothelial growth factor expression were observed with identical patterns. CONCLUSION:  The present findings demonstrate that Se-induced apoptosis in carcinoma cells is basically a caspase-dependent process involving complicated mechanisms. Activation of both the intrinsic apoptotic pathway and ER stress pathway plays a major and concurrent role, while p53 activation seems to have only a functional role in SeMet.

Which form is that? The importance of selenium speciation and metabolism in the prevention and treatment of disease.
            (Weekley and Harris, 2013) Download
The biological activity of selenium is dependent upon its speciation. We aim to integrate selenium speciation and metabolism into a discussion of the mechanisms by which selenium exerts its biological activity. First, we present the current status of selenium in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases with particular attention paid to the results of major chemoprevention trials involving selenium supplementation. A comprehensive review of the current understanding of the metabolism of common dietary selenium compounds - selenite, selenomethionine, methylselenocysteine and selenocystine - is presented, with discussion of the evidence for the various metabolic pathways and their products. The antioxidant, prooxidant and other mechanisms of the dietary selenium compounds have been linked to their disease prevention and treatment properties. The evidence for these various mechanisms -in vitro, in cells and in vivo- is evaluated with emphasis on the selenium metabolites involved. We conclude that dietary selenium compounds should be considered prodrugs, whose biological activity will depend on the activity of the various metabolic pathways in, and the redox status of, cells and tissues. These factors should be considered in future laboratory research and in selecting selenium compounds for trials of disease prevention and treatment by selenium supplementation.

Does selenium supplementation affect thyroid function? Results from a randomized, controlled, double-blinded trial in a Danish population.
            (Winther et al., 2015) Download
OBJECTIVE:  Selenium is present in the active site of proteins important for thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism. The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of selenium supplementation in different doses on thyroid function, under conditions of suboptimal dietary selenium intake. DESIGN:  The Danish PREvention of Cancer by Intervention with SElenium pilot study (DK-PRECISE) is a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. A total of 491 males and females aged 60-74 years were randomized to 100 μg (n=124), 200 μg (n=122), or 300 μg (n=119) selenium-enriched yeast or matching yeast-based placebo tablets (n=126). A total of 361 participants, equally distributed across treatment groups, completed the 5-year intervention period. METHODS:  Plasma samples were analyzed for selenium and serum samples for TSH, free triiodothyronine (FT3), and free thyroxine (FT4) at baseline, and after 6 months, and 5 years of supplementation. RESULTS:  Plasma selenium concentrations increased significantly and dose-dependently in treatment groups receiving selenium (P<0.001). Serum TSH and FT4 concentrations decreased significantly and dose-dependently by 0.066 mIU/l (P=0.010) and 0.11 pmol/l (P=0.015), respectively, per 100 μg/day increase, with insignificant differences between 6 months and 5 years. No significant effects were found for FT3 and FT3:FT4 ratio. CONCLUSIONS:  In euthyroid subjects, selenium supplementation minutely and dose-dependently affects thyroid function, when compared with placebo, by decreasing serum TSH and FT4 concentrations. Based on these findings, selenium supplementation is not warranted under conditions of marginal selenium deficiency. However, a role for selenium supplementation in the treatment of autoimmune thyroid diseases is still unresolved.

Selenium interactions and toxicity: a review. Selenium interactions and toxicity.
            (Zwolak and Zaporowska, 2012) Download
Selenium is an essential trace element for mammals. Through selenoproteins, this mineral participates in various biological processes such as antioxidant defence, thyroid hormone production, and immune responses. Some reports indicate that a human organism deficient in selenium may be prone to certain diseases. Adverse health effects following selenium overexposure, although very rare, have been found in animals and people. Contrary to selenium, arsenic and cadmium are regarded as toxic elements. Both are environmental and industrial pollutants, and exposure to excessive amounts of arsenic or cadmium can pose a threat to many people's health, especially those living in polluted regions. Two other elements, vanadium and chromium(III) in trace amounts are believed to play essential physiological functions in mammals. This review summarizes recent studies on selenium interactions with arsenic and cadmium and selenium interactions with vanadium and chromium in mammals. Human studies have demonstrated that selenium may reduce arsenic accumulation in the organism and protect against arsenic-related skin lesions. Selenium was found to antagonise the prooxidant and genotoxic effects of arsenic in rodents and cell cultures. Also, studies on selenium effects against oxidative stress induced by cadmium in various animal tissues produced promising results. Reports suggest that selenium protection against toxicity of arsenic and cadmium is mediated via sequestration of these elements into biologically inert conjugates. Selenium-dependent antioxidant enzymes probably play a secondary role in arsenic and cadmium detoxification. So far, few studies have evaluated selenium effects on chromium(III) and vanadium actions in mammals. Still, they show that selenium may interact with these minerals. Taken together, the recent findings regarding selenium interaction with other elements extend our understanding of selenium biological functions and highlight selenium as a potential countermeasure against toxicity induced by arsenic and cadmium.




Clark, LC, et al. (1998), ‘Decreased incidence of prostate cancer with selenium supplementation: results of a double-blind cancer prevention trial.’, Br J Urol, 81 (5), 730-34. PubMed: 9634050
Lunøe, K, et al. (2011), ‘Investigation of the selenium metabolism in cancer cell lines.’, Metallomics, 3 (2), 162-68. PubMed: 21161099
Marshall, JR, et al. (2011), ‘Phase III trial of selenium to prevent prostate cancer in men with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia: SWOG S9917.’, Cancer Prev Res (Phila), 4 (11), 1761-69. PubMed: 21896650
Redman, C, et al. (1998), ‘Inhibitory effect of selenomethionine on the growth of three selected human tumor cell lines.’, Cancer Lett, 125 (1-2), 103-10. PubMed: 9566703
Rita Cardoso, B, et al. (2014), ‘Selenium status in elderly: relation to cognitive decline.’, J Trace Elem Med Biol, 28 (4), 422-26. PubMed: 25220532
Shen, F, et al. (2015), ‘The Association Between Serum Levels of Selenium, Copper, and Magnesium with Thyroid Cancer: a Meta-analysis.’, Biol Trace Elem Res, 167 (2), 225-35. PubMed: 25820485
Suzuki, M, et al. (2010), ‘Differential apoptotic response of human cancer cells to organoselenium compounds.’, Cancer Chemother Pharmacol, 66 (3), 475-84. PubMed: 19940991
Weekley, CM and HH Harris (2013), ‘Which form is that? The importance of selenium speciation and metabolism in the prevention and treatment of disease.’, Chem Soc Rev, 42 (23), 8870-94. PubMed: 24030774
Winther, KH, et al. (2015), ‘Does selenium supplementation affect thyroid function? Results from a randomized, controlled, double-blinded trial in a Danish population.’, Eur J Endocrinol, 172 (6), 657-67. PubMed: 25740851
Zwolak, I and H Zaporowska (2012), ‘Selenium interactions and toxicity: a review. Selenium interactions and toxicity.’, Cell Biol Toxicol, 28 (1), 31-46. PubMed: 21913064