ASTHMA AND SELENIUM
"Reduced Selenium in Asthmatic Subjects in New Zealand"
Flatt, Amber, et al, Thorax, 1990;45:95-99.
Selenium is an
important component of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that protects
against oxidative metabolites from the lipoxygenase pathway of arachidonic
acid metabolism. Low selenium levels may increase the risk to the inflammatory
processes in asthma. Whole blood and plasma selenium levels, as well as
glutathione peroxidase levels, were measured in 56 asthmatic and 59 non-asthmatic
control subjects in New Zealand, a country which has a low dietary selenium
intake and a high incidence of asthma. Asthma patients had lowered values
for whole blood selenium and glutathione peroxidase activity as compared
to controls. Atopic individuals also had lower levels than controls. Plasma
levels of selenium and glutathione showed no difference between asthmatics
and controls. There was a 5.8 fold increase in the risk of asthma
among subjects with low glutathione peroxidase levels and 1.9 for low
whole blood levels. These results support the hypothesis that
lowered selenium and glutathione peroxidase levels may contribute to the
incidence of asthma in New Zealand.