Selenoprotein P status correlates to cancer-specific mortality in renal cancer patients

PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46644. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046644. Epub 2012 Oct 9.


Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element for selenoprotein biosynthesis. Selenoproteins have been implicated in cancer risk and tumor development. Selenoprotein P (SePP) serves as the major Se transport protein in blood and as reliable biomarker of Se status in marginally supplied individuals. Among the different malignancies, renal cancer is characterized by a high mortality rate. In this study, we aimed to analyze the Se status in renal cell cancer (RCC) patients and whether it correlates to cancer-specific mortality. To this end, serum samples of RCC patients (n = 41) and controls (n = 21) were retrospectively analyzed. Serum Se and SePP concentrations were measured by X-ray fluorescence and an immunoassay, respectively. Clinical and survival data were compared to serum Se and SePP concentrations as markers of Se status by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve and Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses. In our patients, higher tumor grade and tumor stage at diagnosis correlated to lower SePP and Se concentrations. Kaplan-Meier analyses indicated that low Se status at diagnosis (SePP<2.4 mg/l, bottom tertile of patient group) was associated with a poor 5-year survival rate of 20% only. We conclude that SePP and Se concentrations are of prognostic value in RCC and may serve as additional diagnostic biomarkers identifying a Se deficit in kidney cancer patients potentially affecting therapy regimen. As poor Se status was indicative of high mortality odds, we speculate that an adjuvant Se supplementation of Se-deficient RCC patients might be beneficial in order to stabilize their selenoprotein expression hopefully prolonging their survival. However, this assumption needs to be rigorously tested in prospective clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Kidney Neoplasms / blood
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Selenium / metabolism
  • Selenoprotein P / metabolism*


  • Selenoprotein P
  • Selenium

Grants and funding

This study was supported by DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft GraKo 1208, and Deutsche Krebshilfe 10-1792-SchoII (to LS), and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, MedSys) (to HAM). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.