The influence of selenium on immune responses

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Nov;52(11):1273-80. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700330.


Selenium (Se) is a potent nutritional antioxidant that carries out biological effects through its incorporation into selenoproteins. Given the crucial roles that selenoproteins play in regulating reactive oxygen species (ROS) and redox status in nearly all tissues, it is not surprising that dietary Se strongly influences inflammation and immune responses. The notion that Se "boosts" the immune system has been supported by studies involving aging immunity or protection against certain pathogens. However, studies examining the effects of Se status on other types of immunity such as antiparasitic responses or allergic asthma have suggested more Se may not always be beneficial. In this review, we summarize and compare the available data regarding how the levels of Se affect different types of immunity. Overall, determining how Se intake differentially affects various types of immune responses and dissecting the mechanisms by which this occurs will lead to a better utilization of Se-supplementation for human diseases involving the immune system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Aged
  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / immunology
  • Asthma / prevention & control
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects*
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Selenium / pharmacology*


  • Selenium