Selenium deficiency alters epithelial cell morphology and responses to influenza

Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Jun 15;42(12):1826-37. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2007.03.017. Epub 2007 Mar 24.


It is unknown whether nutritional deficiencies affect the morphology and function of structural cells, such as epithelial cells, and modify the susceptibility to viral infections. We developed an in vitro system of differentiated human bronchial epithelial cells (BEC) grown either under selenium-adequate (Se+) or selenium-deficient (Se-) conditions, to determine whether selenium deficiency impairs host defense responses at the level of the epithelium. Se- BECs had normal SOD activity, but decreased activity of the selenium-dependent enzyme GPX1. Interestingly, catalase activity was also decreased in Se- BECs. Both Se- and Se+ BECs differentiated into a mucociliary epithelium; however, Se- BEC demonstrated increased mucus production and increased Muc5AC mRNA levels. This effect was also seen in Se+ BEC treated with 3-aminotriazole, an inhibitor of catalase activity, suggesting an association between catalase activity and mucus production. Both Se- and Se+ were infected with influenza A/Bangkok/1/79 and examined 24 h postinfection. Influenza-induced IL-6 production was greater while influenza-induced IP-10 production was lower in Se- BECs. In addition, influenza-induced apoptosis was greater in Se- BEC as compared to the Se+ BECs. These data demonstrate that selenium deficiency has a significant impact on the morphology and influenza-induced host defense responses in human airway epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allantoin / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / drug effects*
  • Bronchi / metabolism
  • Catalase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Catalase / drug effects
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured / ultrastructure
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism
  • Chickens
  • Dogs
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / genetics
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / drug effects*
  • Influenza A virus / immunology
  • Influenza A virus / pathogenicity
  • Influenza, Human / immunology*
  • Influenza, Human / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Selenium / deficiency*
  • Survival Rate
  • Virulence / drug effects


  • CXCL10 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Interleukin-6
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Allantoin
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Glutathione
  • Selenium