The Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa, H.B.K.) originating from the Amazon region is one of the richest known sources of selenium (Se), a micronutrient that is essential and required for optimal physiological functioning. This mineral presents several health benefits, including improvement of the redox cellular status and maintenance of genomic stability. Knowing that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) is strongly linked to oxidative stress and consequently DNA damage, the aim of this study was to assess the ex vivo antioxidative effects of Se through Brazil nut consumption and its potential in preventing oxidative DNA damage induced by H2O2. In order to accomplish this, the Comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis) was used to measure DNA damage in peripheral blood cells harvested before and after supplementation with Brazil nut. Comet assay was also applied ex vivo to measure the potential of Se to prevent oxidative damage to DNA induced by H2O2 in blood of type 2 diabetes patients collected before and after six months of supplementation with Brazil nut. We found that supplementation with Brazil nuts significantly increased serum Se levels. Furthermore, we observed a significant increase in fasting blood glucose after six months of consuming Brazil nuts; however, no significant effect was observed on the levels of glycated hemoglobin. Finally, we noticed that the cells were more resistant to H2O2-induced DNA damage after six months of supplementation with Brazil nut. Thus, consumption of Brazil nuts could decrease oxidative DNA damage in T2D patients, probably through the antioxidative effects of Se.
Keywords: Brazil nut; DNA damage; H2O2; antioxidant; comet assay; hyperglycemia; overweight; selenium.