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Toxicol Lett. 2014 Oct 15;230(2):295-303. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.11.016. Epub 2013 Nov 22.

Selenium neurotoxicity in humans: bridging laboratory and epidemiologic studies.

Author information

1
Environmental, Genetic and Nutritional Epidemiology Research Center (CREAGEN), Department of Diagnostic, Clinical and Public Health Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy; Trace Element Institute for Unesco Satellite Center, Department of Diagnostic, Clinical and Public Health Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy. Electronic address: marco.vinceti@unimore.it.
2
Department of Neuroscience, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and Local Health Unit of Modena, Modena, Italy.
3
Environmental, Genetic and Nutritional Epidemiology Research Center (CREAGEN), Department of Diagnostic, Clinical and Public Health Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy; Trace Element Institute for Unesco Satellite Center, Department of Diagnostic, Clinical and Public Health Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.
4
Research Unit Analytical BioGeoChemistry, Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health GmbH, Munich, Germany.
5
Department of Forensic Sciences and Toxicology, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.
6
Neurology and Toxicology Service and Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel.

Abstract

Selenium is a metalloid of considerable interest in the human from both a toxicological and a nutritional perspective, with a very narrow safe range of intake. Acute selenium intoxication is followed by adverse effects on the nervous system with special clinical relevance, while the neurotoxicity of long-term overexposure is less characterized and recognized. We aimed to address this issue from a public health perspective, focusing on both laboratory studies and the few epidemiologic human studies available, with emphasis on their methodological strengths and limitations. The frequently overlooked differences in toxicity and biological activity of selenium compounds are also outlined. In addition to lethargy, dizziness, motor weakness and paresthesias, an excess risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is the effect on the nervous system which has been more consistently associated with chronic low-level selenium overexposure, particularly to its inorganic compounds. Additional research efforts are needed to better elucidate the neurotoxic effects exerted by selenium overexposure.

KEYWORDS:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Epidemiologic studies; Nervous system diseases; Neurotoxicity syndromes; Risk assessment; Selenium

PMID:
24269718
DOI:
10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.11.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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