Selenium in Human Health and Disease
Selenium is a nonmetal trace element with atomic number 34 and atomic mass of 78.96. It is mostly found in nature as inorganic selenite, or organic amino acids selenomethionine and selenocysteine. Selenocysteine is present in the catalytic sites of selenoproteins. Humans have 25 selenoproteins. Most of the selenoproteins with identified function work as antioxidant enzymes, with the exception of the deiodinases, selenoprotein P, and selenophosphate synthethase 2, which regulate thyroid hormone levels, transport selenium through the bloodstream, and autoregulate the synthesis of selenoproteins themselves, respectively. Selenium and selenoproteins are implicated in several aspects of human health and disease, such as male fertility; neurological, endocrine, and immune function; and cancer. These implications have been widely studied and are discussed in this entry.
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