Lymphocyte response is enhanced by supplementation of elderly subjects with selenium-enriched yeast

Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 May;53(5):1323-8. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/53.5.1323.


The effect of selenium supplementation on plasma selenium concentrations and lymphocyte-proliferation responses to mitogens was investigated in 22 elderly institutionalized subjects. Subjects were assigned to a 6-mo trial with either 100 micrograms Se/d (as selenium-enriched yeast) or a placebo. Plasma selenium concentrations of the selenium-supplemented group increased from 0.84 +/- 0.26 to 1.55 +/- 0.33 mumol/L (mean +/- SD) after 2 mo and the values plateaued thereafter. The mean response of lymphocytes to mitogens in elderly subjects tended to be lower than responses in healthy adults, although responses remained within the 5-95% confidence-interval limit for healthy adults. During selenium supplementation the proliferative response to pokeweed mitogen increased significantly (+79% of baseline concentrations after 4 mo, P less than 0.01) and reached the upper limit of the usual range for adults after 6 mo (+138%, P less than 0.001). In accordance with previous studies in animals and in vitro, this investigation demonstrates for the first time immunostimulatory properties of selenium-enriched yeast in elderly humans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Selenium / blood
  • Selenium / pharmacology*
  • Yeast, Dried


  • Malondialdehyde
  • Selenium