Preventing cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly is a major public health challenge for our century and all hypotheses should be explored. Selenium (Se) is one of the factors that may affect the risk of cognitive decline. Its importance in the health and aging process has been documented. Because of the potential of selenoproteins to protect against oxidative stress, Se raises significant expectations for the prevention of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes conditions commonly associated with oxidative stress. Thus, the relationships between Se and cognitive impairment or dementia can be examined through vascular risk factors for dementia, with particular interest in diabetes and dyslipidemia. In addition, in cases of Se deficiency, the brain is the organ that remains Se replete the longest suggesting that Se plays an important role in brain functions. This article presents results obtained in the frame of a longitudinal study on Se and cognitive impairment. They are consistent with the hypothesis that low Se status is a risk factor for cognitive decline even after taking into account vascular risk factors. The concomitant evolution between plasma Se decrease over a 9-year period and cognitive decline suggested that optimal Se status is potentially important to maintain neuropsychological functions in aging people. However, as our understanding of Se biology is incomplete, epidemiological studies are needed to define the groups of population that could benefit from Se supplementation.
Copyright © 2012 International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.