“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.

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