Selenium reduction of ubiquinone via SQOR suppresses ferroptosis

Nat Metab. 2024 Feb;6(2):343-358. doi: 10.1038/s42255-024-00974-4. Epub 2024 Feb 13.


The canonical biological function of selenium is in the production of selenocysteine residues of selenoproteins, and this forms the basis for its role as an essential antioxidant and cytoprotective micronutrient. Here we demonstrate that, via its metabolic intermediate hydrogen selenide, selenium reduces ubiquinone in the mitochondria through catalysis by sulfide quinone oxidoreductase. Through this mechanism, selenium rapidly protects against lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis in a timescale that precedes selenoprotein production, doing so even when selenoprotein production has been eliminated. Our findings identify a regulatory mechanism against ferroptosis that implicates sulfide quinone oxidoreductase and expands our understanding of selenium in biology.

MeSH terms

  • Ferroptosis*
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Selenium* / metabolism
  • Selenium* / pharmacology
  • Selenoproteins / metabolism
  • Sulfides
  • Ubiquinone / pharmacology


  • Selenium
  • Ubiquinone
  • Selenoproteins
  • Sulfides
  • Oxidoreductases