, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 51-54
Date: 22 Jul 2003

Selenium supplementation at low doses contributes to the decrease in heart damage in experimental Trypanosoma cruzi infection

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Chagasic patients with cardiomyopathy have low levels of selenium (Se), a fundamental trace element. We evaluated the effect of supplementing infected mice with Se (0.25–16 ppm). Supplementation with 0.25 or 1 ppm Se led to parasitaemia and survival curves similar to those of the control group. Mice treated with 4–16 ppm showed a dose-dependent decrease of parasitaemia, significant for the highest concentration. This was probably due to a direct effect on the parasites, which were lysed after in vitro incubation with Se. Survival rates did not change significantly; however, heart damage was reduced in infected mice supplemented with 4 ppm Se, as indicated by a lower cardiac isoform of creatine kinase levels. Our results imply that Se supplementation does not lead to a general protection during infection, but may help protect the heart from inflammatory damage. The effect of Se supplementation in the course of T. cruzi infection depends on the host-parasite pair employed.