Objective: It is still a matter of debate if subtle changes in selenium (Se) status affect thyroid function tests (TFTs) and bone mineral density (BMD). This is particularly relevant for the elderly, whose nutritional status is more vulnerable.
Design and methods: We investigated Se status in a cohort of 387 healthy elderly men (median age 77 yrs; inter quartile range 75-80 yrs) in relation to TFTs and BMD. Se status was determined by measuring both plasma selenoprotein P (SePP) and Se.
Results: The overall Se status in our population was low normal with only 0.5% (2/387) of subjects meeting the criteria for Se deficiency. SePP and Se levels were not associated with thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4), thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3) or reverse triiodothyronine (rT3) levels. The T3/T4 and T3/rT3 ratios, reflecting peripheral metabolism of thyroid hormone, were not associated with Se status either. SePP and Se were positively associated with total BMD and femoral trochanter BMD. Se, but not SePP, was positively associated with femoral neck and ward's BMD. Multivariate linear analyses showed that these associations remain statistically significant in a model including TSH, FT4, body mass index, physical performance score, age, smoking, diabetes mellitus and number of medication use.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that Se status, within the normal European marginally supplied range, is positively associated with BMD in healthy aging men, independent of thyroid function. Thyroid function tests appear unaffected by Se status in this population.