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Med Klin (Munich). 1997 Sep 15;92 Suppl 3:12-4.

[Selenium administration in sepsis patients].

[Article in German]

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Klinikum Innenstadt, Universität München.



It has been hypothesized that low serum selenium concentrations, associated with low glutathione peroxidase activities in critical ill patients may contribute to decreased cleavage from free radicals and deteriorate the clinical outcome.


We therefore performed a controlled, prospective study including 42 patients with inflammatory response syndrome and an APACHE-II score > or = 15. Whereas the controls (Se-, n = 21) received 35 micrograms sodium selenite during the whole treatment period the selenium substitution group (Se+, n = 21) received additional 500 micrograms, 250 micrograms and 125 micrograms sodium selenite, each amount for 3 days. Clinical outcome was monitored by APACHE-III score, documentation of acute renal failure, respiratory insufficiency and the mortality rate until discharge from the hospital.


The mean APACHE-II(III) score on admission was 20.6 (68.3) in the Se- versus 20.1 (61.0) in the Se+ group. Age, sex, underlying diseases, the serum selenium levels and glutathione peroxidase activities on admission were equally distributed in both groups. Selenium substitution was followed by a significant increase in serum selenium levels and glutathione peroxidase activity to normal levels, whereas in controls both parameters remained low. The APACHE-III score significantly improved on day 7 (p = 0.018) and 14 (p = 0.041) in the Se+ group. Hemodialysis because of acute renal failure was necessary in 9 (Se-) versus 3 (Se +) patients (p < 0.04). Overall mortality rate in the Se+ group was 33.5% versus 55% in the Se- group (p = 0.13). A subanalysis of those patients with an APACHE-II score > 20 (n = 10) in each group revealed a significant reduction in mortality from 70% to 30% (p = 0.013). No negative side effects of selenium were seen.


Selenium substitution significantly improves clinical outcome and reduces the incidence of acute renal failure.

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