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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011 Jan;19(1):118-25. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2010.10.019. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

Selenomethionine inhibits IL-1β inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) expression in primary human chondrocytes.

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Department of Pathology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



Several lines of evidence show that selenium (Se) has potential protective effects in osteoarthritis (OA), however the exact mechanism is still unclear. As interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is one of the key proinflammatory cytokines contributing to the progression in OA, we investigated the effect of Se in neutralizing the inflammatory effects of IL-1β on nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E₂ (PGE₂) production, and the signaling pathways involved.


Isolated primary human chondrocytes were pretreated with selenomethionine (SeMet) (0.5 μM SeMet) for 24 h then co-treated without or with IL-1β (10 pg/ml or 50 pg/ml) for another 24 h followed by RNA isolation. Gene expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) was determined by quantitative Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction. Culture media concentrations of NO and PGE₂ were determined by nitrite (NO₂⁻) assay and immunoassay respectively. For analysis of cell signaling pathways, chondrocytes were pretreated with SeMet then stimulated with IL-1β for 0-45 min. The activity of IL-1β signaling pathways was determined by Western blot screening of phosphorylation states of signal transduction proteins.


SeMet inhibited chondrocyte gene expression of IL-1β induced iNOS (31-54%, P=0.031) and COX2 (50-65%, P=0.031) with corresponding reductions in both NO (19-47%, P=0.031) and PGE₂ (24-32%, P=0.031) production. Pretreatment with SeMet attenuated IL-1β induced activation of p38 MAPK (39%, P=0.039) but not the extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathways (ERK) 1/2, c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) or nuclear factor κB (NFκB).


This study elucidates one potential protective mechanism of Se, namely through the alteration of cell signaling and downstream transcription of pro-inflammatory effects of IL-1β.

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