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Hell J Nucl Med. 2006 Sep-Dec;9(3):195-203.

[Selenium and thyroidal function; the role of immunoassays].

[Article in Greek, Modern]

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Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Panagia General Hospital, N Plastora 22, 551 32 Kalamaria, Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece.


It is well known that selenium plays a fundamental role in regulating thyroid and other functions of the human body like reproduction, autoimmunity, glucose metabolism or bone metabolism. While for thyroid function investigation, radioimmunoassays and radioimmunometric assays both key techniques of nuclear medicine are used, for selenium measurements atomic absorption spectrometry is the method of choice. Normal thyroid gland retains high selenium concentrations even under conditions of inadequate selenium supply and expresses many of the known selenocysteine-containing proteins. Adequate selenium nutrition supports efficient thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism and protects the thyroid gland damage by excessive iodide exposure. In regions where a combined severe iodine and selenium deficiency exist, normalization of iodine supply is mandatory before initiation of selenium supplementation in order to prevent hypothyroidism. Selenium deficiency and disturbed thyroid function may develop under conditions of special dietary regimens, such as long-term total parenteral nutrition or after inadequate nutrition in children. Some investigators suggest that selenium may be a useful adjunctive treatment for autoimmune thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto and Graves' disease. Low serum selenium levels have been associated with higher incidence of thyroid cancer, as well as with chronic illness or lomicronw triiodothyronine syndrome. These biological actions are mediated through the expression of selenoproteins, the most important being the glutathione peroxidases, the iodothyronine deiodinases, the thioredoxine reductase and the selenoprotein P. Selenium is also associated with animal proteins. Subsequently meats and seafood are dietary sources of selenium. The ingestion of large quantities of selenium may have adverse effects. It has been shown that dietary intake of about 300 micro g of selenium daily may have a toxic effect on growth hormone and insulin like growth factor-1 metabolism, as well as in the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Main adverse effects may be anorexia, diarrhea, depression, hemorrhage, liver and kidney necrosis, blindness, ataxia and respiratory disturbances. Dermatitis and CNS deficiency have also been described. It is concluded that selenium plays an important role in regulating thyroid function, as well as in the homeostasis of thyroid hormones through the action of selenoproteins, in which it incorporates as selenocystein.

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