Selenium and selenoproteins: from endothelial cytoprotection to clinical outcomes.


Discipline of Nutrition and Metabolism, Department of Pediatrics, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]


The role of the vascular endothelium in inflammation was demonstrated experimentally through biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and cytoprotection. Selenium is a trace element essential for cell protection against oxidative lesions triggered by reactive oxygen species or inflammatory responses. Preclinical studies have demonstrated a relationship between adhesion molecules as biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and selenoproteins as biomarkers of selenium status under conditions that mimic different diseases. Most studies in humans indicate an association between selenium deficiency and increased risk of morbidity and mortality, yet the pathophysiology of selenium in endothelial activation remains unknown. Here, we summarize selenium-dependent endothelial function evaluation techniques and focus on the role of selenium in endothelial cytoprotection according to current scientific knowledge. Most studies on the role of selenium in endothelial processes show selenium-dependent endothelial functions and explain how cells and tissues adapt to inflammatory insults. Taken together, these studies show an increase in adhesion molecules and a decrease in the expression of selenoproteins following a decreased exposure to selenium. Few clinical trials have enough methodological quality to be included in meta-analysis on the benefits of selenium supplementation. Furthermore, the methodology adopted in many studies does not consider the relevant findings on the pathophysiology of endothelial dysfunction. Preclinical studies should be more frequently integrated into clinical studies to provide clearer views on the role of selenium status in endothelial cytoprotection.