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J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Jun;48(6):2062-70.

Chemical speciation influences comparative activity of selenium-enriched garlic and yeast in mammary cancer prevention.

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Department of Experimental Pathology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Agric Food Chem 2000 Sep;48(9):4452.


A recent human intervention trial showed that daily supplementation with selenized yeast (Se-yeast) led to a decrease in the overall cancer morbidity and mortality by nearly 50%; past research has also demonstrated that selenized garlic (Se-garlic) is very effective in mammary cancer chemoprevention in the rat model. The goal of this study was to compare certain biological activities of Se-garlic and Se-yeast and to elucidate the differences based on the chemical forms of selenium found in these two natural products. Characterization of organic selenium compounds in yeast (1922 microg/g Se) and garlic (296 microg/g Se) was carried out by high-performance liquid chromatography with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry or with electrospray mass spectrometry. Analytical speciation studies showed that the bulk of the selenium in Se-garlic and Se-yeast is in the form of gamma-glutamyl-Se-methylselenocysteine (73%) and selenomethionine (85%), respectively. The above methodology has the sensitivity and capability to account for >90% of total selenium. In the rat feeding studies, supplementation of Se-garlic in the diet at different levels consistently caused a lower total tissue selenium accumulation when compared to Se-yeast. On the other hand, Se-garlic was significantly more effective in suppressing the development of premalignant lesions and the formation of adenocarcinomas in the mammary gland of carcinogen-treated rats. Given the present finding on the identity of selenomethionine and gamma-glutamyl-Se-methylselenocysteine as the major form of selenium in Se-yeast and Se-garlic, respectively, the metabolism of these two compounds is discussed in an attempt to elucidate how their disposition in tissues might account for the differences in cancer chemopreventive activity.

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