Selenium Deficiency Diseases in Animals

  • Raymond J. Shamberger
Part of the Biochemistry of the Elements book series (BOTE, volume 2)


Biological function is thought to depend on the tissue concentration or the intake of a nutrient. The severity of deficiency signs and the effects of re supplementation depend on the degree of deficiency. This dependency has been formulated mathemetically by Bertrand (1912). According to Bertrand’s rule, a function for which a nutrient is essential and the nutrient is low or absent results in a theoretical deficiency, but the function increases with increasing exposure to the essential nutrient. This increase in function is followed by a plateau representing the maintenance of optimal function through homeostatic regulation, and a decline of the function toward zero as the regulatory mechanisms are overcome by increasing concentrations that become toxic. Bertrand’s work has been graphically interpreted by Mertz (1981) in a review article (Figure 2-1). This type of classification of function should help in more completely understanding the complete picture in regard to trace elements. In the past, certain trace elements have been labeled as either toxic, essential, or carcinogenic, etc. by various groups without regard to its other equally important functions. Recent work has demonstrated that several of the trace elements including selenium possess the characteristics outlined by Bertrand and Mertz. It is likely that each essential nutrient has its own specific curve which differs from that of other nutrients, i.e., the width of the plateau.


Muscular Dystrophy Sodium Selenite Glutathione Peroxidase Activity Selenium Deficiency Blood Selenium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andrews, E. D., Hartley, W. J., and Grant, A. B., 1968. Selenium-responsive diseases of animals in New Zealand, New Z. Vet. J. 16:3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bartle, J. L., Senger, P. L., and Hillers, J. K., 1980. Influence of injected selenium in dairy bulls on blood and semen selenium, glutathione peroxidase and seminal quality, Biol. Reprod. 23:1007–1013.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bertrand, G., 1912. Eighth Int. Cong. Appl. Chem. N.Y. 23:30. Cited by W. Mertz, 1981. The essential trace elements, Science 213:1332–1338.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, D. G., and Burk, R. F., 1973. Selenium retention in tissues and sperm of rats fed a torula yeast diet, J. Nutr. 103:102–108.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bunk, M. J., and Combs, Jr., G. F., 1981. Relationship of selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase activity and nutritional pancreatic atrophy in selenium-deficient chicks, J. Nutr. 111:1611–1620.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Burk, R. F., 1976. The significance of selenium levels in blood, in Proceedings of the Symposium on Selenium-Tellurium in the Environment, Industrial Health Foundation, Pittsburgh, pp. 194–203.Google Scholar
  7. Burk, R. J., 1978. Selenium in nutrition, Wld. Rev. Nutr. Diet. 30:88–106.Google Scholar
  8. Calvin, H. I., 1978. Selective incorporation of selenium-75 into a polypeptide of the rat sperm tail, J. Exp. Zool. 204:445–452.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Calvin, H. I., Cooper, G. W., and Wallace, E., 1981. Evidence that selenium in rat sperm is associated with a cysteine-rich structural protein of the mitochondrial capsules. Gamete Res. 4:139–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cantor, A. H., and Scott, M. L., 1974. The effect of selenium in the hen’s diet on egg production, hatchability, performance of progeny and selenium concentration in eggs, Poult. Sci. 53:1870–1880.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Century, B., and Horwitt, M. K., 1959. Effect of fatty acids on encephalomalacia, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 102:375–377.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Century, B., and Horwitt, M. K., 1964. Effect of dietary selenium on incidence of nutritional encephalomalacia in chicks, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 117:320–322.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Cregar, C. R., Mitchell, R. H., Atkinson, R. L., Ferguson, T. M., Reid, B. L., and Couch, J. R., 1960. Vitamin E activity of selenium in turkey hatchability, Poult. Sci. 39:59–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Daft, F. S., Sebrell, W. H., and Lillie, R. D., 1942. Prevention by cystine or methionine of hemorrhage and necrosis of the liver in rats, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 50:1–5.Google Scholar
  15. Dam, H., 1957. Influence of antioxidants and redox substances on signs of vitamin E deficiency, Pharmacol. Rev. 9:1–16.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dam, H., and Glavind, J., 1938. Alimentary-exudative diathesis, Nature 142:1077–1078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dam, H., and Glavind, J., 1940. Vitamin E and kapillarpermeabilitat, Naturwissenschaften 28:207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dam, H., and Granados, H., 1945. Peroxidation of body fat in vitamin E deficiency, Acta Physiol. Scand. 10:162–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dam, H., Hartman, S., Jacobsen, J. E., and Sondergaard, 1957. The albumin globulin ratio in plasma and exudate of chicks suffering from exudative diathesis, Acta Physiol. Scand. 41:149–157.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hart, K. E., and Mackinnon, M. M., 1958. Enzootic paradontal disease in the Bulls-Santoft area, N.Z. Vet. J. 6:118–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hartley, W. J., and Grant, A. B., 1961. A review of selenium responsive diseases of New Zealand livestock, Fed. Proc. Fed. Am. Soc. Exp. Biol. 20:679–688.Google Scholar
  22. Hartley, W. J., 1963. Selenium and ewe fertility, Proc. N.Z. Soc. Anim. Prod. 23:20–27.Google Scholar
  23. Handreck, K. A., and Godwin, K. O., 1970. Distribution in the sheep of selenium derived from 75Se labelled ruminai pellets, Aust. J. Agr. Res. 21:71–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hidiroglou, M., Hoffman, I., Jenkins, K. J., and Mackay, R. R., 1971. Control of nutritional muscular dystrophy in lambs by selenium implantation, Anim. Prod. 13:315–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hidiroglou, M., Jenkins, K. J., and Corner, A. H., 1972. Control of nutritional muscular dystrophy in lambs by vitamin E implantations, Can. J. Anim. Sci. 52:511–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hidiroglou, M., Jenkins, K. J., Wauthy, J. M., and Proulx, J. E., 1972. A note on the prevention of nutritional muscular dystrophy by winter silage feeding of the cow or selenium implantation of the calf, Anim. Prod. 14:115–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hurt, H. D., Cary, E. E., and Visek, W. J., 1971. Growth, reproduction and tissue concentration of selenium in the selenium-depleted rat, J. Nutr. 101:761–766.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Jenkins, K. J., and Hidiroglou, M., 1972. A review of selenium vitamin E responsive problems in livestock. A case for selenium as a feed additive in Canada, Can. J. Anim. Sci. 52:591–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jenkins, J. J., Hidiroglou, M., Wauthy, J. M., and Proulx, J. E., 1974. Prevention of nutritional muscular dystrophy in calves and lambs by selenium and vitamin E additions to the maternal mineral supplement, Can. J. Anim. Sci. 54:49–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jensen, L. S., 1968. Selenium deficiency and impaired reproduction in Japanese quail, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 128:970–972.Google Scholar
  31. Jungherr, E., and Pappenheimer, A. M., 1973. Nutritional myopathy of gizzard in turkeys, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 37:520–526.Google Scholar
  32. Kuchel, R. E., and Buckley, R. A., 1969. The provision of selenium to sheep by means of heavy pellets, Aust. J. Agr. Res. 20:1099–1107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kuchel, R. E., and Godwin, K. O., 1976. The prevention and cure of white muscle disease in lambs by means of selenium pellets, Proc. Aust. Soc. Anim. Prod. 11:389–392.Google Scholar
  34. Lannek, N., and Lindberg, P., 1975. Vitamin E and selenium deficienices of domestic animals, Adv. Vet. Sci. Comp. Med. 19:127–164.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Lannek, N., Lindberg, P., and Tollerz, G., 1962. Lowered resistance to iron in vitamin E deficient piglets and mice, Nature 195:1006–1014.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Latshaw, J. D., and Osman, M., 1975. Distribution of selenium in egg white and yolk after feeding natural and synthetic selenium compounds, Poult. Sci. 54:1244–1252.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lindberg, P., and Siren, M., 1965. Fluorometric selenium determinations in the liver of normal pigs and in pigs affected with nutritional muscle dystrophy and liver dystrophy, Acta Vet. Scand 6:59–64.Google Scholar
  38. Machlin, L. J., Gordon, R. S., and Meisky, K. H., 1959. The effect of antioxidants on vitamin E deficiency symptoms and production of liver peroxide in the chicken, J. Nutr. 67:333–343.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Mathias, M. M., and Hogue, D. E., 1971. Effect of selenium, synthetic antioxidants, and vitamin E on the incidence of exudative diathesis, J. Nutr. 101:1399–1402.Google Scholar
  40. Mertz, W., 1981. The essential trace elements, Science 213:1332–1338.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Michaelis, L., and Wollman, S. H., 1950. Free radicals derived from tocopherol and related substances, Biochim. Biophys Acta 4:156–159.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Michel, R. L., Whitehair, C. K., and Kealey, K. K., 1969. Dietary hepatic necrosis associated with selenium-vitamin E deficiencies in swine, J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 155:50–59.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Muth, O. H., 1970. Selenium-responsive disease of sheep, J. Am. Vet. Assoc. 157:1507–1511.Google Scholar
  44. Muth, O. H., and Allaway, W. H., 1963. The relationship of white muscle disease to the distribution of naturally occurring selenium, Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 142:1379–1384.Google Scholar
  45. Muth, O. H., Weswig, P. H., Whanger, P. O., and Oldfield, J. E., 1971. Effect of feeding selenium deficient ration to the subhuman primate (Saimiri sciureus), Am. J. Vet. Res. 32:1603–1605.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Niemi, S. M., Kuzan, F. B., and Senger, P. L., 1981. Selenium in bovine spermatazoa, J. Dairy Sci. 64:853–856.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Obel, A. L., 1953. Studies on the morphology and etiology of so-called toxic liver dystrophy (hepatosis dietetica) in swine, Acta Path. Microbiol. Scand. Suppl. 94.Google Scholar
  48. Piper, R. C., Froseth, J. A., McDowell, L. R., Kroening, G. H., and Dyer, I. A., 1975. Selenium-vitamin E deficiency in swine fed peas (Pisum satirum), Am. J. Vet. Res. 36:273–281, 1975.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Porta, E. A., de la Iglesia, F. A., and Hartroft, W. S., 1968. Studies on dietary hepatic necrosis, Lab. Invest. 18:283–297.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Salisbury, R. M., Armstrong, M. C,, and Gray, K. G., 1953. Ulcero-membranous gingivitis in the sheep, N.Z. Vet. J. 1:51–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schwarz, K., 1944. Tocopherol Als Leberschutchstoss, Z. Physiol. Chem. 281:109–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schwarz, K., 1948. Uber die Lebertranschadigung der Ratte und ihre Verhütung durch Tocopherol, Z. Physiol. Chem. 283:106–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schwarz, K., 1951. Production of dietary necrotic degeneration using American torula yeast, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 77:818–823.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Schwarz, K., 1965. The role of vitamin E, selenium and related factors in experimental liver disease, Fed. Proc. Fed. Am. Soc. Exp. Biol. 24:58–67.Google Scholar
  55. Schwarz, K., 1975. Essentiality and metabolic functions of selenium, Med. Clin. No. Am. 60:745–758.Google Scholar
  56. Schwarz, K., and Corwin, L. M., 1960. Prevention of decline of α-ketoglutarate and succinate oxidation in vitamin-E-deficient rat liver homogenates, J. Biol. Chem. 235:3387–3392.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Schwarz, K., and Foltz, C. M., 1957. Selenium as an integral part of factor 3 against dietary necrotic liver degeneration, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 79:3292–3293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Schwarz, K., and Pathak, K. D., 1975. The biological essentiality of selenium, and the development of biologically active organoselenium compounds of minimum toxicity, Chem. Scr. 8A:85–95.Google Scholar
  59. Schwarz, K., Porter, L. A., and Fredga, A., 1972. Some regularities in the structure-function relationship of organoselenium compounds effective against dietary liver necrosis, Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 192:200–214.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Scott, M. L., 1970. Nutritional and metabolic interrelationships involving vitamin E, selenium and cystine in the chicken, Int. Z. Vitam. Forsch. 40:334–343.Google Scholar
  61. Scott, M. L., and Stoewsand, G. S., 1961. Ataxias of vitamin A and vitamin E deficiencies, Poult. Sci. 40:1517–1523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Scott, M. L., Hill, F. W., Norris, L. C., Dobson, D. C., and Nelson, T. S., 1955. Studies on vitamin E in poultry nutrition, J. Nutr. 56:387–402.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Scott, M. L., Olson, G., Krook, L., and Brown, W. R., 1967. Selenium-responsive myopathies of myocardium and of smooth muscle in the young poult, J. Nutr. 91:573–583.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Segerson, E. C., and Ganapathy, S. N., 1980. Fertilization of ova in selenium/vitamin E-treated ewes maintained on two planes of nutrition, J. Anim. Sci. 51:386–394.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Segerson, E. C., Riviere, G., Bullock, T. R., Thimaya, S., and Ganapathy, S. N., 1981. Uterine contractions and electrical activity in ewes treated with selenium and vitamin E, Biol. Repr. 23:1020–1028.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Siami, G., Schulert, A. R., and Neal, R. A., 1972. A possible role for the mixed function oxidases in the requirement for selenium in the rat, J. Nutr. 102:857–862.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Smith, D. G., Senger, P. L., McCutchan, J. F., and Landa, C. A., 1979. Selenium and glutathione peroxidase distribution in bovine semen and selenium-75 retention by the tissues of the reproductive in the bull, Biol. Reprod. 20:377–383.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sondergaard, E., Scott, M. L., and Dam, H., 1962. Effects of ubiquinones and phytyl-ubichromenol upon encephalomalacia and muscular dystrophy in the chick, J. Nutr. 78:15–20.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Sprinker, L. H., Harr, J. R., Newberne, P. M., Whanger, P. D., and Weswig, P. H., 1971. Selenium deficiency lesions in rats fed vitamin E-supplemented rations, Nutr. Rep. Int. 4:335–340.Google Scholar
  70. Sugai, M., Inone, M., Tsuchiyama, H., and Kummerow, F. A., 1960. The interrelationship of vitamin E, linoleic and long chain keto acids, Fed. Proc. Fed. Am. Soc. Exp. Biol. 19:421.Google Scholar
  71. Swahn, O., and Thafvelin, B., 1962. Vitamin E and some metabolic disease of pigs, Vitam. Horm. (N.Y.) 20:645–657.Google Scholar
  72. Teige, J., Nordstoga, K., and Aursjo, J., 1977. Influence of a diet on experimental swine dysentery, I. Effects of a vitamin E and selenium deficient diet supplemented with 6.8% cod liver oil, Acta Vet. Scand. 18:384–396.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Thafvelin, B., 1960. Role of cereal fats in the production of nutritional disease in pigs, Nature (London) 188:1169–1172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Thompson, J. N., and Scott, M. L., 1969. Role of selenium in the nutrition of the chick, J. Nutr. 97:335–342.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Thompson, R. H., 1976. The levels of selenium and glutathione peroxidase activity in blood of sheep, cows and pigs, Res. Vet. Sci. 20:229–231.Google Scholar
  76. Thompson, J. N., and Scott, M. L., 1970. Impaired lipid and vitamin E absorption related to atrophy of the pancreas in selenium deficient chicks, J. Nutr. 100:797–809.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Tollerz, G., and Lannek, N., 1964. Protection against iron toxicity in vitamin E-deficient piglets and mice by vitamin E synthetic antioxidants, Nature (London) 201:846–847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Trapp, A. L., Keahey, K. K., Whitenack, D. L., and Whitehair, C. K., 1970. Vitamin E-selenium deficiency in swine: differential diagnosis and nature of the field problem, J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 157:289–300.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Trinder, N., Woodhouse, C. D., and Renton, C. P., 1969. The effect of vitamin E and selenium on the incidence of retained placentae in dairy cows, Vet. Rec. 85:550–553.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Van Vleet, J. F., Carlton, W., and Olander, H. J., 1970. Hepatosis dietetica and mulberry heart disease associated with selenium deficiency in Indiana, swine, J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 157:1208–1219.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. Van Vleet, J. F., Meyer, K. B., and Olander, H. J., 1973. Control of selenium-vitamin E deficiency in growing swine by parenteral administration of selenium-vitamin E preparations to baby pigs or to pregnant sows and their baby pigs, J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 163:452–456, 1973.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  82. Van Vleet, J. F., Ruth, G., and Ferrans, V. J., 1976. Ultrastructural alterations in skeletal muscles of pigs with selenium-vitamin E deficiency, Am. J. Vet. Res. 37:911–922.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Walter, E. D., and Jensen, L. J., 1963. Effectiveness of selenium and noneffectiveness of sulfur amino acids in preventing muscular dystrophy in the turkey poult, J. Nutr. 80:327–331.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. Walter, E. D., and Jensen, L. L., 1964. Serum glutamic-oxalacetic transaminase levels, muscular dystrophy, and certain hematological measurements in chicks and poults as influenced by vitamin E, selenium and methionine, Poult. Sci. 43:919–926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Weichselbaum, T. E., 1935. Cystine deficiency in the albino rat, Q. J. Exp. Physiol. 25:363–367.Google Scholar
  86. Whanger, P. D., and Weswig, P. H., 1975. Effects of selenium, chromium and antioxidants on growth, eye cataracts, plasma cholesterol and blood glucose in selenium deficient vitamin E supplemented rats, Nutr. Rep. Int. 12:345–358.Google Scholar
  87. Whanger, P. D., Weswig, P. H., Oldfield, J. E., Cheeke, P. R., and Schmitz, J. A., 1976. Selenium and white muscle disease in lambs: effects of vitamin E and ethoxyquin, Nutr. Rep. Int. 13:159–173.Google Scholar
  88. Wu, S. H., Oldfield, J. E., Whanger, P. D., and Weswig, P. H., 1973. Effect of selenium, vitamin E and antioxidants on testicular function in rats, Biol. Reprod. 8:625–629.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  89. Wu, A. S. H., Oldfield, J. E., Shull, L. R., and Cheeke, P. R., 1979. Specific effect of selenium deficiency on rat sperm, Biol. Reprod. 20:793–798.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond J. Shamberger
    • 1
  1. 1.The Cleveland Clinic FoundationClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations