Influence of selenium supplements on the post-traumatic alterations of the thyroid axis: a placebo-controlled trial

Intensive Care Med. 2001 Jan;27(1):91-100. doi: 10.1007/s001340000757.


Objective: To investigate whether early selenium (Se) supplementation can modify the post-traumatic alterations of thyroid hormone metabolism, since the first week after trauma is characterised by low plasma Se and negative Se balances.

Design: Prospective, placebo-controlled randomised supplementation trial.

Setting: Surgical ICU in a tertiary university hospital.

Patients: Thirty-one critically ill trauma patients aged 42 +/- 16 years (mean +/- SD), with severe multiple injury (Injury Severity Score 30 +/- 7).

Intervention: Supplementation during the first 5 days after injury with either Se or placebo. The selenium group was further randomised to receive daily 500 microg Se, with or without 150 mg alpha-tocopherol (AT) and 13 mg zinc supplements. The placebo group received the vehicle. Circulating Se, AT, zinc, and thyroid hormones were determined on D0 (= day 0, admission), D1, D2, D5, D10, and D20.

Results: Plasma Se, low on D0, normalised from D1 in the selenium group; total T4 and T3 increased more and faster after D2 (P = 0.04 and 0.08), reverse T3 rising less between D0 and D2 (P = 0.05).

Conclusions: Selenium supplements increased the circulating Se levels. Supplementation was associated with modest changes in thyroid hormones, with an earlier normalisation of T4 and reverse T3 plasma levels. The addition of AT and zinc did not produce any additional change.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Euthyroid Sick Syndromes / etiology
  • Euthyroid Sick Syndromes / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Selenium / deficiency*
  • Selenium / therapeutic use*
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine, Reverse / blood
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use
  • Wounds and Injuries / blood
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin E
  • Triiodothyronine, Reverse
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Thyroxine