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Scand J Gastroenterol. 1998 Oct;33(10):1057-61.

Selenium depletion in patients with gastrointestinal diseases: are there any predictive factors?

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Dept. of Medical Gastroenterology CA, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Patients with intestinal disease are at risk of developing selenium deficiency due to impaired intestinal absorption. The aim of the present study was to evaluate selenium status and to identify predictive factors of selenium depletion in patients with gastrointestinal disease.


The concentration of selenium and the activity of glutathione peroxidase in plasma and erythrocytes were measured by fluorometry and by spectrophotometry. Eighty-six patients with Crohn's disease, 40 patients with ulcerative colitis, and 39 patients with various other gastrointestinal diseases were studied. Twenty-seven patients (16%) received home parenteral nutrition. Stool mass, faecal fat, and vitamin B12 absorption were analysed in 100 patients.


The plasma selenium concentration was decreased in 85% of the patients receiving supplementary parenteral nutrition and in 20% of the patients receiving oral nutrition, among them in 26% of the patients with Crohn's disease. Almost all patients with ulcerative colitis had normal selenium levels. A statistically significant correlation was found between plasma selenium and vitamin B12 absorption, stool mass, faecal fat excretion, body mass index, P-albumin, P-zinc, and the length of the remaining small bowel. Stepwise regression analyses showed that the strongest predictors of selenium deficiency were stool mass, vitamin B12 absorption, and the length of the small-bowel resection.


Selenium deficiency is common in patients with severe gastrointestinal disorders. The deficiency is mainly related to malabsorption, and a low selenium level was almost invariably present in patients who needed parenteral supplementation due to gut failure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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