, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 23-45

The organ distribution of selenium in German adults

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Abstract

The selenium concentrations were determined in liver, kidney, skeletal muscle, heart, brain, prostate, testis, bile, lung, and spleen of German traffic accident victims. In addition the nitrogen and phosphorus contents were determined in the same organs and tissues. On a per-weight unit basis, the highest selenium concentration was found in kidney. However, this corresponds to only 4% of the total body selenium. Most of the whole body selenium (50%) is present in skeletal muscle, which thus appears to act as a selenium storage organ. However, there is also evidence that selenium is required for muscle function. In plasma and interstitial fluid, .450 mg of Se, or 7.5% of the total body selenium is present. A comparison of the organ Se concentrations of the German traffic accident victims with the selenium concentrations of the same human organs as reported in different countries indicates that the organ concentrations of West Germans are comparable to that of the population of New Zealand, a low-Se country, and significantly lower than that observed in the organs of American, Canadian, and especially Japanese subjects. The international comparison of the organ selenium concentrations also revealed that the selenium uptake of kidney is higher at low- and adequate dietary Se intakes and lower if the dietary Se supply is high, as is the case for Japanese subjects. Estimates of the daily excretion of selenium with the bile indicate that the amounts are three times higher than the daily urinary losses and in the same order of magnitude as the daily dietary selenium intakes. Enterohepatic reabsorption of selenium from the bile appears to be a significant mechanism of conserving dietary selenium and to maintain Se balance at comparatively low dietary Se intakes.