Effect of selenium supplementation in hypothyroid subjects of an iodine and selenium deficient area: the possible danger of indiscriminate supplementation of iodine-deficient subjects with selenium

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991 Jul;73(1):213-5. doi: 10.1210/jcem-73-1-213.


Selenium and seleno dependent glutathione peroxidase (GPX) deficiency has been described in endemias of myxedematous cretinism. In northern Zaire, a selenium supplementation trial has been conducted. Beside correcting the GPX activity, two months of selenium supplementation was shown to modify the serum thyroid hormones parameters in clinically euthyroid subjects and to induce a dramatic fall of the already impaired thyroid function in clinically hypothyroid subjects. These results further support a role of selenium in thyroid hormone metabolism. In an iodine deficient area, this selenium deficiency could lead to opposite clinical consequences: protect the general population and the fetus against iodine deficiency and brain damage; and in turn, favour the degenerative process of the thyroid gland leading to myxoedematous cretinism.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism / etiology
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / drug therapy*
  • Hypothyroidism / etiology
  • Hypothyroidism / physiopathology
  • Iodine / deficiency*
  • Selenium / adverse effects*
  • Selenium / deficiency
  • Selenium / therapeutic use
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine / blood


  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • Iodine
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Selenium
  • Thyroxine