Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element in human. Recent studies of Se supplementation on the effect of Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) have been reported, but the exact benefit is unclear as well as the underlying immunologic mechanism. We aimed to evaluate the clinical effect of Se supplement in patients with HT, and explore the potential mechanism against thyroid autoimmunity. A prospective, randomized-controlled study was performed in patients with HT assigned to two groups. Se-treated group (n = 43) received selenious yeast tablet (SYT) for 6 months, whereas no treatment in control group (n = 47). The primary outcome is the change of thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) or thyroglobulin antibody (TGAb). Second, thyroid function, urinary iodine, Se, Glutathione peroxidase3 (GPx3), and Selenoprotein P1 (SePP1) levels were measured during the SYT treatment. Meanwhile, regulatory T cells (Tregs) and their subsets activated Tregs (aTregs), resting Tregs, and secreting Tregs, as well as Helios and PD-1 expression on these cells were also detected. The results showed that SYT treatment significantly decreased TPOAb, TGAb, and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, accompanied with the increased Se, GPx3, and SePP1, compared with the control group. Subgroup analysis revealed that subclinical HT may benefit more from this treatment in the decrease of TSH levels by interaction test. Moreover, the percentage of aTregs, Helios/Tregs, and Helios/aTregs were significantly higher in the Se-treated group than control. In conclusion, Se supplementation may have a beneficial effect on thyroid autoantibodies and thyroid function by increasing the antioxidant activity and upregulating the activated Treg cells.
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