Measurement of selenium is used to control possible deficiency as well as to monitor toxicity due to excessive exposure.
Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element. It acts as a cofactor for maintaining the activity of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), an enzyme that catalyzes the degradation of organic peroxides. The absence of selenium is associated with a loss of GSH-Px activity, resulting in damage to cell membranes due to the accumulation of free radicals.
The essential nature of selenium in human nutrition is now undeniable. Multiple cases of selenium deficiency have been reported in patients receiving parenteral nutrition for more than one week. Deficiency has also been reported in severe malnutrition. Selenium deficiency is associated with painful muscle weakness and acute or chronic congestive heart failure due to myocardial disease, which can sometimes be fatal. Other findings of selenium deficiency in some cases include erythrocyte macrocytosis, discoloration of the skin and hair as well as increased levels of transaminases and creatine kinase.
Selenium plays an important role in the control of thyroid hormone metabolism. Selenium deficiency can cause reduced rates of growth due to feedback, which reduces the synthesis of triiodothyronine-mediated growth hormone, while combined deficiency of selenium and iodine worsens hypothyroidism. Selenium is also very important for normal reproductive function.
Toxicity from excessive selenium intake can occur and is due to industrial exposure (electronics, copper, ceramics, glass, rubber) or through drinking water in some parts of the world. Toxic symptoms include foul breath (like garlic), brittle thick nails, dry brittle hair, red skin on the hands and feet, and nervous system abnormalities such as numbness, convulsions, or paralysis.
The determination of metals is done by ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry), a method that enables the simultaneous detection of many metals. Its sensitivity and accuracy are significantly better than conventional atomic absorption, with the ability to measure metals at concentrations up to 1 in 1015 (1 in 1 quadrillion, ppq)!
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.