Selenium upregulates CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells in iodine-induced autoimmune thyroiditis model of NOD.H-2(h4) mice

Endocr J. 2010;57(7):595-601. doi: 10.1507/endocrj.k10e-063. Epub 2010 Apr 27.


Selenium (Se) is required for thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism. Se treatment reduces serum thyroidspecific antibody titers in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT), but the exact mechanism is not clear. We investigated the effects of Se treatment on CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Treg) in a iodine-induced autoimmune thyroiditis model. NOD.H-2(h4) mice were randomly divided into control, AIT untreated, and AIT with Se treatment groups. Mice were fed with 0.005% sodium iodine (NaI) water for 8 weeks to induce AIT. Se-treated mice received 0.3 mg/L sodium selenite in drinking water. The AIT mice had fewer Treg cells and reduced Foxp3 mRNA expression in splenocytes compared with the controls (p < 0.01). The percentage of Treg cells and expression of Foxp3 mRNA were increased by Se treatment (as compared with untreated AIT mice, p < 0.05). Mice that received Se supplementation also had lower serum thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb) titers and reduced lymphocytic infiltration in thyroids than untreated AIT mice. These data suggest that CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells play an important role in the development of AIT. Se supplementation may restore normal levels of CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells by up-regulating the expression of Foxp3 mRNA in mice with AIT.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Iodine
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Selenium / pharmacology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology*
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / chemically induced
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / immunology*
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / pathology
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation / immunology


  • Il2ra protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Iodine
  • Selenium