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Biochem J. 1987 Dec 1;248(2):443-7.

Inhibition of hepatic deiodination of thyroxine is caused by selenium deficiency in rats.

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  • 1University Department of Clinical Chemistry, Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, U.K.


Selenium (Se) deficiency produced up to a 14-fold decrease in hepatic tri-iodothyronine (T3) production from thyroxine (T4) in vitro. The T3 production rate could not be restored by the addition of a variety of cofactors, nor by the addition of control homogenate. The impairment in hepatic T3 production observed in Se deficiency was reflected in the concentrations of thyroid hormones circulating in plasma, T4 being increased approx. 40% and T3 being decreased by 30%. However, the fall in plasma T3 concentrations was smaller than might be expected in view of the marked decreased in T3 production. Se deficiency had no measurable effect on plasma reverse-tri-iodothyronine concentrations. The data suggest that Se deficiency produces an inhibition of both 5- and 5'-deiodination, consistent with the widely held view that these reactions are catalysed by the same enzyme complex. The mechanism of inhibition appears not be mediated by changes in thiol levels, but a direct role of Se in the activity of the deiodinase complex cannot be excluded.

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