Investigation of Chondroprotective Mechanisms of Selenium

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Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element and metalloid involved in several key metabolic activities: protection against oxidative damage, regulation of immune and thyroid function, and fertility. Several recent lines of evidence from epidemiology, genetic, and transgenic animal studies suggest that Se may play a protective role in Osteoarthritis (OA). However, the exact protective mechanism of Se is still unclear.

In this study, we hypothesized that Se exerts its chondroprotective benefit via an anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effect mediated by specific selenoproteins that neutralize cytokine-induced inflammatory responses in chondrocytes. We established an in vitro system for studying the effect of Se in the chondrosarcoma cell line SW-1353 and in human primary chondrocytes. Selenomethionine (SeMet) induced gene expression and enzyme activity of both antioxidative enzymes glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and thioredoxin reductase (TR) in SW-1353 cells. Our data suggest that Se may be protective against oxidative stress through regulation of the activity of these antioxidative enzymes.

As IL-1β is one of the primary pro-inflammatory cytokines contributing to the progression in OA, we next investigated the effect of Se on the gene expression induced by physiological doses of IL-1β. SeMet inhibited IL-1β induced catabolic gene expression of matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP1) and MMP13 as well as total MMP activity in chondrocytes. Similarly, SeMet inhibited chondrocyte gene expression of IL-1β induced nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase (COX2) with corresponding reductions in nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production. In addition, SeMet pretreatment attenuated the IL-1β induced activation of p38 MAPK but not the ERK, JNK or NFkB pathways. Taken together, our results suggest that Se inhibits IL-1β induced expression of inflammatory and catabolic genes, partly through inhibition of IL-1β cell signaling.

Since Se may function through selenoproteins, we evaluated the role of three specific major selenoproteins, GPX1, TR1 and DIO2, in modifying the inflammatory response stimulated by IL-1β in chondrocytes by RNA interference. Based on RNA interference results, DIO2 and TR1 mediated the inhibitory effect of SeMet on IL-1β induced COX2 gene expression, while GPX1 did not show a significant inhibitory effect on Se. Depletion of DIO2 increased the IL-1β induced COX2 gene expression. This suggests that DIO2 may negatively modulate the IL-1β response. Our data also suggest that part of this inhibitory effect of DIO2 could be through regulation of IL-1β gene expression itself. These results highlight a potential new role of DIO2 in modulating the inflammatory response in chondrocytes

In summary, the result of this study suggests that Se may exert its chondroprotective effect through specific selenoproteins which neutralize oxidative stress and modify the inflammatory response in chondrocytes.






Cheng, Wai Ming (2010). Investigation of Chondroprotective Mechanisms of Selenium. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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