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J Hepatol. 1992 Mar;14(2-3):176-82.

Selenium in chronic liver disease.

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Department of Medicine, University of Sheffield Medical School, United Kingdom.


In order to assess the role of selenium (Se) in chronic liver disease, we have measured serum, urinary and hepatic selenium in a range of liver diseases and correlated them with nutritional status and conventional liver biochemistry. Serum Se levels (microgram/l +/- S.D.) were significantly lower in both alcoholic (63.6 +/- 18.2, p less than 0.0001) and non-alcoholic liver disease (NALD) (60.6 +/- 13.6, p less than 0.0001) compared to healthy controls (87.8 +/- 21.2) and non-malignant 'disease controls' (80.3 +/- 19.1). Hepatic Se levels (microgram/g of dry weight) were also reduced in both ALD (0.568 +/- 0.647, p less than 0.005) and NALD (0.863 +/- 0.308, p less than 0.005) compared to controls (1.227 +/- 0.296), 24-h urinary Se excretion (microgram) in ALD (24.6 +/- 10.7) and NALD (29.0 +/- 14.3) was similar to controls (30.3 +/- 8.7). Serum Se showed a highly significant positive correlation with albumin (p less than 0.001) in both ALD and NALD. Serum levels were also significantly correlated with anthropometric measurements. Dietary assessment of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and low serum Se levels did not show a reduced dietary intake. Our data show that Se levels are low in liver disease irrespective of aetiology and suggest that these low levels are more likely to be related to overall nutritional status than to dietary intake.

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