Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version

June 2006


Published in Selenium: Its Molecular Biology and Role in Human Health, Second Edition, edited by Dolph L. Hatfield, Marla J. Berry, and Vadim N. Gladyshev. Springer, 2006.


The purpose of the new edition book is to inform the reader of many new discoveries and to examine our present knowledge of the molecular biology of selenium, its incorporation into proteins as selenocysteine and the role that this element and selenium-containing proteins (selenoproteins) play in health. The book's emphasis is on our understanding of selenium metabolism in mammals and the role of this element in human health. The book begins with a brief history of selenium and how its face has changed through the years fiom one of a toxin and possible carcinogen to one of an essential micronutrient in the diets of humans and other animals. Indeed, selenium is now touted as an important cancer chemopreventative agent, as well as for its roles in inhibiting viral expression, delaying the progression of AIDS in HIV positive patients, preventing heart disease and other cardiovascular and muscle disorders, slowing the aging process, and having roles in development, male reproduction and immune function. As more of the molecular biology of selenium is unraveled, we are understanding the manner in which this element does indeed have direct roles in each of these health issues.