Supplementation with selenium augments the functions of natural killer and lymphokine-activated killer cells

Biol Trace Elem Res. 1996 Jun;52(3):227-39. doi: 10.1007/BF02789164.


This study examined the effects of dietary (2.0 ppm for 8 wk) and in vitro (1 x 10(-7)M) supplementation with selenium (Se, as sodium selenite) on the activity of spleen natural killer (NK) cells and plastic-adherent lymphokine-activated killer (A-LAK) cells from C57B1/6J male mice. Dietary supplementation with Se resulted in a significant increase in the lytic activity of activated NK cells, and cells from these highly lytic effector cell populations expressed significantly higher numbers of intermediate affinity interleukin-2 receptors (II-2R)/cell. In the presence of high concentrations of II-2 and 1 x 10(-7)M Se, resting populations of spleen NK cells developed into A-LAK cells that had a significantly enhanced ability to proliferate, as indicated by the significantly higher amounts of nuclear 3H-thymidine incorporation, and a significantly augmented cytolytic activity against both NK-sensitive and NK-resistant target cells. Se appears to enhance the lytic activity of activated NK cells and to augment the proliferation, expansion, and lytic activity of A-LAK cells in the presence of high concentrations of II-2 through its ability to enhance the expression of intermediate affinity II-2R on these cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Separation
  • Culture Media
  • Diet / standards
  • Food, Fortified
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Selenium / pharmacology*
  • Sodium Selenite / administration & dosage
  • Sodium Selenite / pharmacology*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / drug effects


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Culture Media
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Selenium
  • Sodium Selenite