Absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of selenium following oral administration of elemental selenium nanoparticles or selenite in rats

Katrin Löschner, Niels Hadrup, Marianne Hansen, Sónia Cristina Alves Pereira, Bente Gammelgaard, Laura Hyrup Møller, Alicja Mortensen, Henrik Rye Lam, Erik Huusfeldt Larsen

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A suspension of nanoparticles of BSA-stabilized red amorphous elemental selenium (Se) or an aqueous solution of sodium selenite was repeatedly administered by oral gavage for 28 days at 0.05 mg/kg bw/day (low dose) or at 0.5 mg/kg bw/day (high dose) as Se to female rats. Prior to administration, the size distribution of the Se nanoparticles was characterized by dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy, which showed that the particles’ mean diameter was 19 nm and ranged in size from 10-80 nm. Following administration of the high dose of Se nanoparticles or selenite the concentration of Se was determined by ICP-MS in liver, kidney, urine, feces, stomach, lungs, plasma at µg/g level and in brain and muscle tissue at sub-µg/g level. In order to test if any elemental Se was present in liver, kidney or feces, an in situ derivatization selective to elemental Se was made by treatment with sulfite, which resulted in formation of the selenosulfate anion. This Se species was selectively and quantitatively determined by anion exchange HPLC with ICP-MS detection. The results showed that elemental Se was present in the livers, kidneys and feces from animals exposed to low and high doses of elemental Se nanoparticles or to selenite, and was detected also in the same samples from control animals. The fraction of Se present as elemental Se in livers and kidneys from the high dose animals was significantly larger than the similar fraction in samples from the low dose animals or from the controls. This suggested that the natural metabolic pathways of Se were exhausted when given the high dose of elemental Se or selenite resulting in a non-metabolized pool of elemental Se. Both dosage forms of Se were bioavailable as demonstrated by the blood biomarker selenoprotein P, which was equally up-regulated in the high-dose animals for both dosage forms of Se. Finally, the excretion of Se in urine and its occurrence as Se-methylseleno-N-Acetyl-galactosamine and trimethylselenonium-ion demonstrated that both dosage forms were metabolized and excreted. The results of the study showed that both forms of Se were equally absorbed, distributed, metabolized and excreted, but the detailed mechanism of the fate of the administered elemental Se or selenite in the gastro-intestinal tract of rats remains unclear.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)330-337
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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