Oct 7, 1997

Free radical generation by selenium compounds and their prooxidant toxicity

Biomedical and Environmental Sciences : BES
J E Spallholz


Selenium (Se) and many of its compounds are among the most toxic of nutrients. Selenium toxicity was first described in range animals in the western United States in the 1930's which consumed "selenium accumulator" plants of the genus Astragalus, Xylorrhiza, Oonopsis, and Stanleya. Selenites and selenates from the soil accumulate in these plants primarily as methylated selenium compounds and plants evolve dimethyldiselenide and dimethylselenide. Dietary selenium, primarily as selenomethionine and selenocysteine for humans fulfill the dietary requirement for selenoenzymes and proteins. In humans and animals excessive dietary selenium may be toxic. In vitro, selenium compounds such as selenite, selenium dioxide and diselenides react with thiols, such as glutathione, producing superoxide and other reactive oxygen species. This catalytic reaction of selenium compounds with thiols likely accounts for selenium toxicity to cells ex vivo and in vivo where the major glutathione producing organ, the liver, is also the major target organ of selenium toxicity. Selenium enzymes and selenoethers that do not readily form a selenide (RSe-) anion and compounds such as Ebselen where selenium is sequestered, are not toxic. Methylation of selenium...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Selenium Compounds, Inorganic
Reactive Oxygen Species
Free Radicals

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