Oxygen derived free radicals, generated by a number of cellular reactions, include superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals. They exert their cytotoxic effects mainly via peroxidation of the cell membrane resulting in the loss of membrane integrity. The essential trace element, selenium exerts complex effects on the endocrine systems, partly due to its antioxidant capacity. Well-characterized selenoproteins include iodothyronine deiodinases, glutathione peroxidases and thioredoxin reductases involved in thyroid hormone metabolism and protection from oxidative damage. The value of selenium supplementation in autoimmune thyroid disorders has been investigated and most studies confirmed the beneficial effect of selenium supplementation in Hashimoto's and Graves's diseases. Recently, selenium proved to be effective in mild inflammatory orbitopathy. There are a number of reports about the effect of selenium in diabetes mellitus, but the data are controversial as both insulin-like and diabetes-inducing effects of selenium have been described. Selenium was successfully used in both female and male infertility of autoimmune origin. Orv. Hetil., 154 (41), 1628-1635.
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