Biological Trace Element Research

, 125:255

Differential Effects of Doses and Forms of Dietary Selenium on Immune Cell Numbers in the Skin of Ultraviolet-irradiated and Unirradiated Mice

  • Roderick C. McKenzie
  • Geoff J. Beckett
  • Steven McLean
  • John R. Arthur
  • Joanna C. Macve
  • Fergus Nicol
  • A. Forbes Howie
  • Mary Norval


The effect of three different doses of dietary l-selenomethionine (SM) and sodium selenite (SS) on skin selenium (Se) content, glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity, Langerhans cell (LC) and mast cell numbers in ultraviolet radiation-B (UVB)-irradiated and unirradiated C3H/HeN mice was determined. After weaning, groups of mice were given Se-deficient, Se-adequate, or Se-high diets. Six weeks later, some animals in each group were exposed to a single UVB dose (acute), while others were exposed three times weekly for the following 40 weeks (chronic). The skin Se content and GPx activity increased in all the Se-supplemented groups, and the latter was not altered by UVB exposure. Generally, the Se-containing diets caused an increase in LC numbers at 6 weeks and a further rise at 40 weeks, but did not prevent the loss induced by acute or chronic UVB radiation. Skin mast cell numbers were highest in animals fed the Se-deficient diet after 6 and 40 weeks. Acute and chronic UVB radiation decreased the mast cell number and dietary Se did not prevent the reduction. While the present study shows that Se plays an important role in governing the number of LCs and mast cells in the skin, no protective effect against the immunomodulating properties of UVB radiation on these cell types was observed. However, this conclusion may only apply to the experimental conditions chosen, and additional studies at different Se dosages and reduced intensities of chronic UVB exposure are required to confirm the results.


Langerhans cells Selenium Mast cells Glutathione peroxidase Ultraviolet radiation 



basal cell carcinoma

Con A

Concanavalin A


glutathione peroxidase




interleukin-2 receptor


Langerhans cell


not significant




standard error of the mean








ultraviolet-B radiation


  1. 1.
    McKenzie RC, Rafferty TS, Beckett GJ (1998) Selenium: an essential element for immune function. Immunol Today 19:342–345PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    McKenzie RC, Rafferty TS, Arthur JR, Beckett GJ (2001) Effects of selenium on immunity and ageing. In: Hatfield DL (ed) Selenium: its molecular biology and role in human health. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, pp 258–272Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Schrauzer GN (2003) The nutritional significance, metabolism and toxicology of selenomethionine. Adv Food Nutr Res 47:73–112PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rayman MP (2000) The importance of selenium to human health. Lancet 356:23–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fleming J, Ghose A, Harrison PR (2001) Molecular mechanisms of cancer prevention by selenium compounds. Nutr Cancer 40:42–49PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ip C, Dong Y, Ganther HE (2002) New concepts in selenium chemoprevention. Cancer Metastasis Rev 21:281–289PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Beckett GJ, Arthur JR, Miller S, McKenzie RC (2004) Selenium. In: Hughes A, Bendich A, Darlington G (eds) Dietary enhancement of human immune function. Humana Press Inc, Totowa, USA, pp 217–240Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Spallholz JE, Boylan LM, Larsen HS (1990) Advances in understanding selenium’s role in the immune system. Ann NY Acad Sci 587:123–139PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Clark LC, Graham GF, Crounse RG, Grimson R, Hulka B, Shy CM (1984) Plasma selenium and skin neoplasms: a case control study. Nutr Cancer 84:13–21Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lewin M (2003) PhD Thesis, Thioredoxin reductase and glutathione peroxidase in the prevention of oxidative damage to vascular endothelium and the skin. University of EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rafferty TS, McKenzie RC, Hunter JAA, Howie AF, Arthur JR, Nicol F et al (1998) Differential expression of selenoproteins by human skin cells and protection by selenium from UVB-radiation-induced cell death. Biochem J 332:231–236PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Stewart MS, Spallholz JE, Neldner KH, Pence BC (1999) Selenium compounds have disparate abilities to impose oxidative stress and induce apoptosis. Free Radic Biol Med 26:42–48PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Clark LC, Combs G Jr, Turnbull BW, Slate EH, Chalker DK, Chow J et al (1996) Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin. A randomized controlled trial. J Am Med Assoc 276:1957–1963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    McKenzie RC (2000) Selenium, ultraviolet radiation and the skin. Clin Exp Dermatol 25:631–636PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Burke KE, Burford RG, Combs GF, French IW, Skeffington DR (1992) The effect of topical L-selenomethionine on minimal erythema dose of ultraviolet irradiation in humans. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 9:52–57PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Duthie MS, Kimber I, Norval M (1999) The effects of ultraviolet radiation on the human immune system. Br J Dermatol 140:995–1009PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Toews GB, Bergstresser PR, Streilein JW (1980) Epidermal Langerhans cell density determines whether contact hypersensitivity or unresponsiveness follows skin painting with DNFB. J Immunol 124:445–453PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Schwarz T (2005) Mechanisms of UV-induced immunosuppression. Keio J Med 54:165–171PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Rafferty TS, Norval M, El-Ghorr A, Beckett GJ, Arthur JA, Nicol F et al (2003) Dietary selenium levels determine epidermal Langerhans cell numbers in mice. Biol Trace Elem Res 92:161–172PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Henz BM, Maurer M, Lippert U, Worm M, Babina M (2001) Mast cells initiators of immunity and host defence. Exp Dermatol 10:1–10PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Grimbaldeston MA, Skov L, Baadsgaard O, Skov BG, Marshman G, Finlay-Jones JJ et al (2000) High dermal mast cell prevalence is a predisposing factor for basal cell carcinoma in humans. J Invest Dermatol 115:317–320PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Combs GF (2001) Selenium in global food system. Br J Nutr 85:517–547PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Pence BC, Delver E, Dunn M (1994) The effects of dietary selenium on UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis and epidermal antioxidant status. J Invest Dermatol 102:759–761PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bradford MM (1976) A rapid and sensitive method for the quantification of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principal of protein-dye binding. Anal Biochem 72:248–254PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Abdel-Rahim AG, Arthur JR, Mills CF (1985) The effects of dietary sulphur on selenium utilization by the rat. Biol Trace Elem Res 8:137–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Macve JC, McKenzie RC, Norval M (2003) Exposure to multiple doses of UVB radiation reduces the numbers of epidermal Langerhans cells and lymph node dendritic cells in mice. Photochem Photobiol Sci 2:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Rotruck JT, Pope AL, Ganther HE, Hafeman DG, Swanson A, Hoekstra WG (1973) Selenium: biochemical role as a component of glutathione peroxidase. Science 179:588–590PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Oran A, Kondo S, Marshall JS, Paglia D, McKenzie RC (1997) Further anti-inflammatory actions of cyclosporine A treatment: reduction of dermal mast cell numbers and reduction in ICAM-1 protein expression in Asebia mice. Br J Dermatol 136:519–526PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Fairris GM, Lloyd B, Hinks L, Perkins PJ, Clayton BE (1989) The effect of supplementation with selenium and vitamin E in psoriasis. Ann Clin Biochem 26:83–88PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Shisler JL, Senkevich TG, Berry MJ, Moss B (1998) Ultraviolet-induced cell death blocked by a selenoprotein from a human dermatotropic poxvirus. Science 279:102–105PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Pence BC, Naylor MF (1990) Effects of single-dose ultraviolet radiation on skin superoxide dismutase, catalase, and xanthine oxidase in hairless mice. J Invest Dermatol 95:213–216PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kiremidjian-Schumacher L, Roy M, Wishe HI, Cohen MW, Stotzky G (1990) Selenium and immune cell functions. I. Effect on lymphocyte proliferation and production of interleukin 1 and interleukin 2. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 193:136–142PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kiremidjian-Schumacher L, Roy M, Wishe HI, Cohen MW, Stotsky G (1994) Supplementation with selenium and human immune cell functions. II. Effect on cytotoxic lymphocytes and natural killer cells. Biol Trace Elem Res 41:115–127PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Roy M, Kiremidjian-Schumacher L, Wishe HI, Cohen MW, Stotzky G (1992) Effect of selenium on the expression of high affinity interleukin-2 receptors. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 200:36–43PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Roy M, Kiremidjian-Schumacher L, Wishe HI, Cohen MW, Stotzky G (1995) Supplementation with selenium restores age-related decline in immune cell function. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 209:369–375PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ravaglia G, Forti P, Maioli F, Bastagli L, Facchini A, Mariani E et al (2000) Effect of micronutrient status on natural killer cell immune function in healthy free-living subjects aged >/= 90 y. Am J Clin Nutr 71:590–598PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Horio T, Okamoto H (1987) Oxygen intermediates are involved in ultraviolet radiation induced damage of Langerhans cells. J Invest Dermatol 88:699–702PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Misso NL, Powers KA, Gillon RL, Stewart GA, Thompson PJ (1996) Reduced platelet glutathione peroxidase activity and serum selenium concentration in atopic asthmatic patients. Clin Exp Allergy 26:838–847PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roderick C. McKenzie
    • 1
  • Geoff J. Beckett
    • 2
  • Steven McLean
    • 1
  • John R. Arthur
    • 3
  • Joanna C. Macve
    • 4
  • Fergus Nicol
    • 3
  • A. Forbes Howie
    • 2
  • Mary Norval
    • 4
  1. 1.The Epidermal Infection and Protection Group, Laboratory for Clinical and Molecular VirologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland
  2. 2.Clinical BiochemistryUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland
  3. 3.Rowett Research InstituteAberdeenScotland
  4. 4.Biomedical SciencesUniversity of Edinburgh Medical SchoolEdinburghScotland

Personalised recommendations