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Toxicol Sci. 2008 Jan;101(1):22-31. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Elemental selenium at nano size (Nano-Se) as a potential chemopreventive agent with reduced risk of selenium toxicity: comparison with se-methylselenocysteine in mice.

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University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230052, Anhui, P.R. China.


Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element with a narrow margin between beneficial and toxic effects. As a promising chemopreventive agent, its use requires consumption over the long term, so the toxicity of Se is always a crucial concern. Based on clinical findings and recent studies in selenoprotein gene-modified mice, it is likely that the antioxidant function of one or more selenoproteins is responsible for the chemopreventive effect of Se. Furthermore, upregulation of phase 2 enzymes by Se has been implicated as a possible chemopreventive mechanism at supranutritional dietary levels. Se-methylselenocysteine (SeMSC), a naturally occurring organic Se product, is considered as one of the most effective chemopreventive selenocompounds. The present study revealed that, as compared with SeMSC, elemental Se at nano size (Nano-Se) possessed equal efficacy in increasing the activities of glutathione peroxidase, thioredoxin reductase, and glutathione S-transferase, but had much lower toxicity as indicated by median lethal dose, acute liver injury, survival rate, and short-term toxicity. Our results suggest that Nano-Se can serve as a potential chemopreventive agent with reduced risk of Se toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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