The neurobiology of selenium: lessons from transgenic mice

J Nutr. 2004 Apr;134(4):707-10. doi: 10.1093/jn/134.4.707.


The brain represents a privileged organ with respect to selenium (Se) supply and retention. It contains high amounts of this essential trace element, which is efficiently retained even in conditions of Se deficiency. Accordingly, no severe neurological phenotype has been reported for animals exposed to Se-depleted diets. They are, however, more susceptible to neuropathological challenges. Recently, gene disruption experiments supported a pivotal role for different selenoproteins in brain function. Using these and other transgenic models, longstanding questions concerning the preferential supply of Se to the brain and the hierarchy among the different selenoproteins are readdressed. Given that genes for at least 25 selenoproteins have been identified in the human genome, and most of these are expressed in the brain, their specific roles for normal brain function and neurological diseases remain to be elucidated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic*
  • Models, Animal
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Proteins*
  • Selenium / physiology*
  • Selenoproteins


  • Proteins
  • Selenoproteins
  • Selenium