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    Selenium is found at the active centre of twenty-five selenoproteins which have a variety of roles, including the well-characterised function of antioxidant defense, but it also is claimed to be involved in the immune system. However, due to limited and conflicting data for different parameters of immune function, intakes of selenium that have an influence on immune function are uncertain. This review covers the relationship between selenium and immune function in man, focusing on the highest level of evidence, namely that generated by randomised controlled trials (RCT), in which the effect of selective administration of selenium, in foods or a supplement, on immune function was assessed. A total of nine RCT were identified from a systematic search of the literature, and some of these trials reported effects on T and natural killer cells, which were dependent on the dose and form of selenium administered, but little effect of selenium on humoral immunity. There is clearly a need to undertake dose-response analysis of cellular immunity data in order to derive quantitative relationships between selenium intake and measures of immune function. Overall, limited effects on immunity emerged from experimental studies in human subjects, though additional investigation on the potential influence of selenium status on cellular immunity appears to be warranted.


    Susan J Fairweather-Tait, Tommaso Filippini, Marco Vinceti. Selenium status and immunity. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2023 Feb;82(1):32-38

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    PMID: 35983607

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