Differential effects of selenite and selenate on human melanocytes, keratinocytes, and melanoma cells

Biochem Cell Biol. 2005 Apr;83(2):196-211. doi: 10.1139/o04-130.


Among the substances that attracted the attention of oncologists in recent years are selenium-containing compounds, both inorganic and organic. Several epidemiological studies have shown an inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence. In the experiments reported here, we compared the effects of 2 inorganic selenium-containing salts that differed in the level of selenium oxidation, selenite IV and selenate VI. We tested the effects of these 2 compounds on cell survival and growth, cell cycle processing, cell morphology, cytoskeleton, and lipid peroxidation in 3 human skin cell types: normal keratinocytes, melanocytes, and human melanoma cell line HTB140. The different effects of selenite and selenate on the viability, growth, and morphology of normal cells and tumor cells are reported and provide a base for future research and treatment of some neoplastic diseases. The attention is paid to cell apoptosis induced by selenite and not by selenate, and the effects of tested substances on thioredoxin reductase system are postulated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Annexin A5 / metabolism
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Biopsy
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeleton / drug effects
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Melanocytes / cytology
  • Melanocytes / drug effects*
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Selenic Acid
  • Selenium Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Sodium Selenite / pharmacology*
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / metabolism
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase / metabolism


  • Annexin A5
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Selenium Compounds
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase
  • Sodium Selenite
  • Selenic Acid