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LE Magazine November 2006


Role of Se-dependent glutathione peroxidases in gastrointestinal inflammation and cancer.

Increase in reactive oxygen species plays an integral part in the inflammatory response, and chronic inflammation increases cancer risk. Selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase (GPX) is well recognized for its antioxidant, and thus anti-inflammatory, activity. However, due to the multiple antioxidant families present in the gastrointestinal tract, it has been difficult to demonstrate the importance of individual antioxidant enzymes. Using genetically altered mice deficient in individual Gpx genes has provided insight into the physiological functions of these genes. Insufficient GPX activity in the mucosal epithelium can trigger acute and chronic inflammation. The presence of certain microflora, such as Helicobacter species, may affect cancer risk significantly. However, when damaged cells have progressed into a precancerous status, increased GPX activity may become procarcinogenic, presumably due to inhibition of hydroperoxide-mediated apoptosis. This review summarizes the current view of GPX in inflammation and cancer with emphasis on the GI tract.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Jun 15;36(12):1481-95

Cancer chemoprevention by garlic and garlic-containing sulfur and selenium compounds.

As early as 1550 B.C., Egyptians realized the benefits of garlic as a remedy for a variety of diseases. Many epidemiological studies support the protective role of garlic and related allium foods against the development of certain human cancers. Natural garlic and garlic cultivated with selenium fertilization have been shown in laboratory animals to have protective roles in cancer prevention. Certain organoselenium compounds and their sulfur analogs have been identified in plants. Organoselenium compounds synthesized in our laboratory were compared with their sulfur analogs for chemopreventive efficacy. Diallyl selenide was at least 300-fold more effective than diallyl sulfide in protecting against 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced mammary adenocarcinomas in rats. In addition, benzyl selenocyanate inhibited the development of DMBA-induced mammary adenocarcinomas and azoxymethane-induced colon cancer in rats and benzo[a]pyrene-induced forestomach tumors in mice. The sulfur analog, benzyl thiocyanate, had no effect under the same experimental conditions. Furthermore, we showed that 1,4-phenylenebis(methylene)selenocyanate, but not its sulfur analog, significantly inhibited DMBA-DNA adduct formation and suppressed DMBA-induced mammary carcinogenesis. Collectively, these results indicate that structurally distinctive organoselenium compounds are superior to their corresponding sulfur analogs in cancer chemoprevention. Additionally, synthetic aromatic selenocyanates are more effective cancer chemopreventive agents than the naturally occurring selenoamino acids. Because plants are capable of utilizing selenium in a manner similar to that in sulfur assimilation pathways, future studies should aim at determining whether, under appropriate conditions, these potent cancer chemopreventive synthetic selenium compounds can be synthesized by garlic and related allium foods.

J Nutr. 2006 Mar;136(3 Suppl):864S-869S

Bioavailability of selenium from foods.

Selenium (Se), an essential nutrient, is needed for activity of several important proteins. Additionally, the consumption of Se in amounts that exceed the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) may protect against prostate and colorectal cancer. Supplemental Se may be acquired through the diet, but Se bioavailability depends on the source. Therefore, dietary advice concerning improvement of Se intake depends on characterization of Se bioavailability from Se-containing food sources.

Nutr Rev. 2006 Mar;64(3):146-51

Comparative effects of 2 antioxidants, selenomethionine and epigallocatechin-gallate, on catabolic and anabolic gene expression of articular chondrocytes.

OBJECTIVE:. To determine the effects of selenomethionine (Se-met) and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCg) on gene expression, activation of mitogen-activating kinases, and DNA binding of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and apolipoprotein-1 (AP-1) in articular chondrocytes. METHODS: Chondrocytes, cultured in low-oxygen tension, were pretreated with L-selenomethionine or EGCg for 24 h, followed by interleukin 1 (IL-1beta) for 1 h (nuclear and cytoplasmic extracts) or 24 h (RNA extraction). Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was performed to determine mRNA levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-1, -3, -13), aggrecanases (-1, -2), IL-1beta, inducible nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenases (-1, -2), type II collagen and aggrecan, and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta1, -2, -3) and their receptors I and II. Activity of mitogen-activating protein kinases (MAPK) was assayed by Western blot and AP-1/NF-kB DNA binding by electrophoretic mobility shift assay. RESULTS: Pretreatment with 0.5 microM Se-met prevented IL-1beta-induced MMP-1 and aggrecanase-1 expression, and reduced the cytokine inhibitory effect on type II collagen, aggrecan core protein, and TGF-beta receptor II (TGF-betaRII) mRNA levels. EGCg was more efficient in modulating the effects of IL-1beta on the genes studied. Whereas EGCg inhibited the IL-1beta-activated MAPK, NF-kappaB, and AP-1, Se-met stimulated that signaling pathway. This could account for the differential effects exerted by these antioxidants on chondrocytes. CONCLUSION: Our data provide insights into the mechanisms whereby ECGg and selenium modulate chondrocyte metabolism. Despite their differential mechanisms of action, the 2 compounds may exert global beneficial effects on articular cartilage.

J Rheumatol. 2005 Oct;32(10):1958-67

The inflammatory consequences of psychologic stress: Relationship to insulin resistance, obesity, atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus, type II.

Inflammation is frequently present in the visceral fat and vasculature in certain patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and/or adult onset Diabetes Mellitus Type II (NIDDM). An hypothesis is presented which argues that repeated acute or chronic psychologically stressful states may cause this inflammatory process. The mediators are the major stress hormones norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (E) and cortisol together with components of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), the proinflammatory cytokines (PIC), as well as free fatty acids (ffa), the latter as a result of lipolysis of neutral fat. NE/E commence this process by activation of NF(kappa)B in macrophages, visceral fat, and endothelial cells which induces the production of toll-like receptors which, when engaged, produce a cascade of inflammatory reactions comprising the acute phase response (APR) of the innate immune system (IIS). The inflammatory process is most marked in the visceral fat depot as well as the vasculature, and is involved in the metabolic events which culminate in the insulin resistance/metabolic syndromes (IRS/MS), the components of which precede and comprise the major risk factors for CVD and NIDDM. The visceral fat has both the proclivity and capacity to undergo inflammation. It contains a rich blood and nerve supply as well as proinflammatory molecules such as interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha), leptin, and resistin, the adipocytokines, and acute phase proteins (APP) which are activated from adipocytes and/or macrophages by sympathetic signaling. The inflammation is linked to fat accumulation. Cortisol, IL-6, angiotensin II (angio II), the enzyme 11(beta) hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 and positive energy balance, the latter due to increased appetite induced by the major stress hormones, are factors which promote fat accumulation and are linked to obesity. There is also the capacity of the host to limit fat expansion. Sympathetic signaling induces TNF which stimulates the production of IL-6 and leptin from adipocytes; these molecules promote lipolysis and ffa fluxes from adipocytes. Moreover, catecholamines and certain PIC inhibit lipoprotein lipase, a fat synthesizing enzyme. The brain also participates in the regulation of fat cell mass; it is informed of fat depot mass by molecules such as leptin and ffa. Leptin stimulates corticotrophin releasing hormone in the brain which stimulates the SNS and HPA axes, i.e. the stress response. Also, ffa through portal signaling from the liver evoke a similar stress response which, like the response to psychologic stress, evokes an innate immune response (IIR), tending to limit fat expansion, which culminates in inflammatory cascades, the IRS-MS, obesity and disease if prolonged. Thus, the brain also has the capacity to limit fat expansion. A competition apparently exists between fat expansion and fat loss. In “western” cultures, with excessive food ingestion, obesity frequently results. The linkage of inflammation to fat metabolism is apparent since weight loss diminishes the concentration of inflammatory mediators. The linkage of stress to inflammation is all the more apparent since the efferent pathways from the brain in response to fat signals, which results in inflammation to decrease and limit fat cell mass, is the same as the response to psychologic stress, which strengthens the hypothesis presented herein.

Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(4):879-91. Epub 2006 Jun 15

Chemical forms of selenium for cancer prevention.

Cancer is becoming an increasingly significant disease worldwide. Currently, more than 7 million people die each year from cancer. With the existing knowledge, at least one-third of worldwide cancer cases could be prevented. Searching for naturally occurring agents in routinely consumed foods that may inhibit cancer development, although challenging, constitutes a valuable and plausible approach to the control and prevention of cancer. To date, the use of the micronutrient selenium (Se) in human clinical trials is limited, but the outcome indicates that Se is among the most promising agents. Although it is convenient to describe the effects of Se in terms of the element, it must always be kept in mind that the chemical form of Se and the dose are determinants of its biological activities. Hyphenated techniques based on coupling chromatographic separation with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometric (ICP-MS) detection are now established as the most realistic and potent analytical tools available for real-life speciation analysis. These speciation investigations provide evidence that the Se compounds, which can generate monomethylated Se (e.g., Se-methylselenocysteine and methylseleninic acid), are more efficacious than other Se compounds because of their chemoprevention activity.

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2005;19(2-3):141-50. Epub 2005 Oct 24

The effect of antioxidant supplementation on superoxide dismutase activity, Cu and Zn levels, and total antioxidant status in erythrocytes of patients with Graves’ disease.

The effects of supplementation with a fixed combination of antioxidants (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and selenium) on superoxide dismutase activity, copper and zinc concentrations, and total antioxidant status were monitored in erythrocytes derived from a group of patients with Graves’ disease treated with methimazole, with respect to the rate of achieving euthyroidism. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroid hormones and the above-mentioned parameters were measured before therapy, and on days 30 and 60 after therapy initiation. The patients receiving antioxidant supplementation along with methimazole therapy (group A, n = 27) achieved euthyroidism at a faster rate than those treated with methimazole alone (group B, n = 28). The activity of superoxide dismutase decreased significantly in both patient groups during the treatment; however, there was no significant difference between the groups. There was no significant change in the erythrocyte concentration of copper, whereas the zinc concentration and total antioxidant status showed significant between-group differences. The study results clearly show that antioxidant supplementation in the treatment of Graves’ disease is justified, while zinc and total antioxidant status in erythrocytes seem to be sensitive indicators of the efficacy of supplemental therapy.

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2005;43(4):383-8

Plasma selenium concentration, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione S-transferase activities in patients with chronic liver diseases.

The effects exerted on hepatocytes by alcohol metabolites, drugs or other toxins and also hepatotropic viruses lead to chronic liver diseases. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in a number of pathologies, including different types of liver diseases. Organism has developed several mechanisms to counteract or prevent reactive oxygen species effects. These include enzymes such as: glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) with selenium (Se) in the active site and glutathione S-transferase (GST). Measurement of GST, compared with alanine aminotransferase (AIAT), has been advocated as a superior marker of hepatocellular damage. The aim of this study was to assess selenium concentration, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione S-transferase activities in plasma of patients with various types of liver diseases. The study population consisted of 54 patients and 25 healthy volunteers. The patients were divided into two groups according to etiology of the disease. Plasma selenium concentration was reduced in patients with cirrhosis, as compared to controls, irrespective of etiology and activity of AIAT. Plasma GSH-Px activity was significantly lower in both groups of patients with normal AIAT activity, whereas it was higher in both groups with activity of AIAT higher than 40 U/l. GST activity was higher only in post-viral group in patients with high AIAT activity. Impaired intestinal absorption and distribution of selenium among plasma proteins have been suggested as possible mechanism of reduced selenium concentration. Changes in the activities of glutatthione-dependent enzymes in plasma may arise from increased formation of reactive oxygen species or from release of these enzymes from injured hepatocytes to plasma.

Pol Merkuriusz Lek. 2002 Oct;13(76):312-5

Selenium, glutathione and glutathione peroxidases in blood of patients with chronic liver diseases.

Disturbances in the antioxidant system could play a role in pathogenesis of chronic liver disease. The aim of our study was to evaluate the levels/activities of antioxidants in blood of patients with chronic liver disease. We estimated selenium and glutathione concentrations and glutathione peroxidase activities in blood of 59 patients with chronic hepatitis B or C virus infection (group 1) and 64 patients with alcoholic, autoimmune or cryptogenic chronic liver disease (group 2). The results were compared with 50 healthy controls. Whole blood and plasma selenium and red cell glutathione concentrations were significantly lower in the patients compared with the controls. Red cell glutathione peroxidase activity was slightly reduced in both subgroups of group 1 and in group 2 with normal alanine aminotransferase values. Plasma glutathione peroxidase activity was slightly but significantly higher in patients with elevated aminotransferase values. The findings suggest that disturbances in antioxidant parameters in blood of patients with chronic liver disease may be the cause of the peroxidative damage of cells.

Acta Biochim Pol. 2003;50(4):1147-54

Selenium in the treatment of autoimmune thyroiditis.

We recently conducted a prospective, placebo-controlled clinical study, where we could demonstrate, that a substitution of 200 microg sodium selenite for three months in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis reduced thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO-Ab) concentrations significantly. Forty-seven patients from the initially 70 patients agreed to participate in a follow-up cross-over study for further six months. One group (n = 13), which initially received selenium continued to take 200 microg sodium selenite (Se-Se), one group stopped taking selenium (Se-0) ( n = 9), another group which received placebo started to take 200 microg selenium (n = 14) (Plac-Se) and the last group was without selenium substitution (Plac-0) (n = 11). TPO-Ab concentrations were measured at beginning and the end of the study. In the Se-Se group, the TPO-Ab concentrations further significantly p = 0.004) decreased from 625 +/- 470 U/ml to 354 +/- 321 U/ml, in the Se-0 group the TPO-Ab concentrations increased significantly p = 0.017) from 450 +/- 335 to 708 +/- 313 U/ml. In the placebo group, the TPO-Ab concentrations in those patients who were followed without selenium substitution were unchanged (1351 +/- 940 vs. 1724 +/- 1112 U/ml, p = 0.555). In contrast, the patients who received 200 microg sodium selenite after placebo, the TPO-Ab concentrations decreased significantly (p = 0.029) from 1182 +/- 723 to 643 +/- 477 U/ml.

Biofactors. 2003;19(3-4):165-70

Supplementation with antioxidants in the treatment of Graves’ disease; the effect on glutathione peroxidase activity and concentration of selenium.

BACKGROUND: The effect of supplementation with a fixed combination of antioxidants (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and selenium) was monitored on the speed of attaining euthyroidism in a group of patients with Graves’ disease, treated with methimazole. METHODS: The activity of glutathione peroxidase in whole blood and the concentrations of selenium, pituitary and thyroid hormones in serum were measured, prior to commencement of therapy and after 30 and 60 days. RESULTS Patients who received supplementation with antioxidants in addition to therapy with methimazole (Group A, n=29) attained euthyroidism faster than the patients treated with only methimazole (Group B, n=28). The concentration of selenium in the serum of patients in Group A increased significantly during treatment (p<0.001), while there was no statistically significant change in the patients in Group B. The concentration of selenium in the serum between the groups differed statistically significantly 30 days (p<0.05) and 60 days (p<0.01) after the commencement of therapy. Activity of glutathione peroxidase in whole blood increased during treatment in both groups of patients. However, a statistically more significant increase occurred in Group A compared to Group B, 30 days after the commencement of therapy (p<0.01). CONCLUSION: The results of the study clearly indicate that supplementation with antioxidants in the treatment of Graves’ disease is justified, particularly those containing selenium.

Clin Chim Acta. 2004 Mar;341(1-2):55-63

Selenium and endocrine systems.

The trace element selenium (Se) is capable of exerting multiple actions on endocrine systems by modifying the expression of at least 30 selenoproteins, many of which have clearly defined functions. Well-characterized selenoenzymes are the families of glutathione peroxidases (GPXs), thioredoxin reductases (TRs) and iodothyronine deiodinases (Ds). These selenoenzymes are capable of modifying cell function by acting as antioxidants and modifying redox status and thyroid hormone metabolism. Se is also involved in cell growth, apoptosis and modifying the action of cell signalling systems and transcription factors. During thyroid hormone synthesis GPX1, GPX3 and TR1 are up-regulated, providing the thyrocytes with considerable protection from peroxidative damage. Thyroidal D1 in rats and both D1 and D2 in humans are also up-regulated to increase the production of bioactive 3,5,3’-tri-iodothyronine (T3). In the basal state, GPX3 is secreted into the follicular lumen where it may down-regulate thyroid hormone synthesis by decreasing hydrogen peroxide concentrations. The deiodinases are present in most tissues and provide a mechanism whereby individual tissues may control their exposure to T3. Se is also able to modify the immune response in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Low sperm production and poor sperm quality are consistent features of Se-deficient animals. The pivotal link between Se, sperm quality and male fertility is GPX4 since the enzyme is essential to allow the production of the correct architecture of the midpiece of spermatozoa. Se also has insulin-mimetic properties, an effect that is probably brought about by stimulating the tyrosine kinases involved in the insulin signalling cascade. Furthermore, in the diabetic rat, Se not only restores glycaemic control but it also prevents or alleviates the adverse effects that diabetes has on cardiac, renal and platelet function.

J Endocrinol. 2005 Mar;184(3):455-65