Sieber, F., Muir, S. A., Cohen, E. P., North, P. E., Fish, B. L., Irving, A. A., Mäder, M. and Moulder, J. E. High-Dose Selenium for the Mitigation of Radiation Injury: A Pilot Study in a Rat Model. Radiat. Res. 171, 368–373 (2009).
The purpose of this study was to evaluate in an animal model the safety and efficacy of dietary supplementation with high doses of selenium for the mitigation of the type of radiation injury that might be sustained during a nuclear accident or an act of radiological terrorism. Age-matched male rats were exposed to 10 Gy (single dose) of total-body irradiation (TBI) followed by a syngeneic bone marrow transplant, then randomized to standard drinking water or drinking water supplemented with sodium selenite or seleno-l-methionine. At 21 weeks after TBI, most rats on standard drinking water had severe renal failure with a mean blood urea nitrogen (BUN) level of 124 ± 29 mg/dl (geometric mean ± SE) whereas rats on selenium-supplemented drinking water (100 μg/day) had a mean BUN level of 67 ± 12 mg/dl. The mitigating effect of selenium was confirmed by histopathological analyses. None of the animals on high-dose selenium showed signs of selenium toxicity. Our results suggest that dietary supplementation with high-dose selenium may provide a safe, effective and practical way to mitigate radiation injury to kidneys.