Selenoproteins in brain development and function

Free Radic Biol Med. 2022 Sep:190:105-115. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2022.07.022. Epub 2022 Aug 10.


Expression of selenoproteins is widespread in neurons of the central nervous system. There is continuous evidence presented over decades that low levels of selenium or selenoproteins are linked to seizures and epilepsy indicating a failure of the inhibitory system. Many developmental processes in the brain depend on the thyroid hormone T3. T3 levels can be locally increased by the action of iodothyronine deiodinases on the prohormone T4. Since deiodinases are selenoproteins, it is expected that selenoprotein deficiency may affect development of the central nervous system. Studies in genetically modified mice or clinical observations of patients with rare diseases point to a role of selenoproteins in brain development and degeneration. In particular selenoprotein P is central to brain function by virtue of its selenium transport function into and within the brain. We summarize which selenoproteins are essential for the brain, which processes depend on selenoproteins, and what is known about genetic deficiencies of selenoproteins in humans. This review is not intended to cover the potential influence of selenium or selenoproteins on major neurodegenerative disorders in human.

Keywords: Biosynthesis; Degeneration; GPX4; Genetics; Parvalbumin.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Selenium* / metabolism
  • Selenoprotein P / metabolism
  • Selenoproteins / genetics
  • Selenoproteins / metabolism
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism


  • Selenoprotein P
  • Selenoproteins
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Selenium