A Summary of New Findings on the Biological Effects of Selenium in Selected Animal Species-A Critical Review

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Oct 21;18(10):2209. doi: 10.3390/ijms18102209.


Selenium is an essential trace element important for many physiological processes, especially for the functions of immune and reproductive systems, metabolism of thyroid hormones, as well as antioxidant defense. Selenium deficiency is usually manifested by an increased incidence of retention of placenta, metritis, mastitis, aborts, lowering fertility and increased susceptibility to infections. In calves, lambs and kids, the selenium deficiency demonstrates by WMD (white muscle disease), in foals and donkey foals, it is associated with incidence of WMD and yellow fat disease, and in pigs it causes VESD (vitamin E/selenium deficiency) syndrome. The prevention of these health disorders can be achieved by an adequate selenium supplementation to the diet. The review summarizes the survey of knowledge on selenium, its biological significance in the organism, the impact of its deficiency in mammalian livestock (comparison of ruminants vs. non-ruminants, herbivore vs. omnivore) and possibilities of its peroral administration. The databases employed were as follows: Web of Science, PubMed, MEDLINE and Google Scholar.

Keywords: antioxidant; donkeys; horses; metallomics; oxidative stress; ruminants; selenium.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammals / metabolism*
  • Selenium / deficiency
  • Selenium / metabolism*
  • Selenium / physiology


  • Selenium