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Genes Nutr. 2012 Apr;7(2):127-37. doi: 10.1007/s12263-011-0246-6. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Relevance of selenoprotein transcripts for selenium status in humans.

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Department of Toxicology and Carcinogenesis, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, 8 Teresy St., 91-348, Lodz, Poland.


The most commonly used methods for assessing the selenium (Se) status in humans involve analysis of Se concentration, selenoprotein activity, and concentration in the blood and its compartments. Recently, it has been suggested that the expression of selenoprotein mRNA in circulating blood leukocytes could differently reflect Se status, due to prioritization of specific selenoprotein synthesis in response to dietary Se supply. Whereas the Se levels required for optimization of selenoprotein P level and plasma glutathione peroxidise activity are well known, estimation of Se level that is required for maximal mRNA expression of selenoprotein in humans is the subject of current investigations. Studies on rats suggest that whole blood selenoprotein mRNA level can be used as the relevant molecular biomarker for assessing Se status, and suboptimal Se intake may be sufficient to achieve effective expression. Human studies, however, did not confirm this hypothesis. According to studies on rodents and humans discussed in this review, it appears that suboptimal Se intake may be sufficient to satisfy molecular requirements of Se and it is lower than current recommended dietary intake in humans. The use of selenoprotein transcripts as a molecular biomarker of Se status requires further studies on a large group of healthy individuals with different baseline Se, including data regarding genetic polymorphism of selenoproteins and data regarding potential modifiers of Se metabolism.

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