Selenium found to reduce the negative health effects of a mixture of environmental pollutants

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A mouse study conducted by the University of Córdoba has proven that exposure to a contaminated mixture of metals and drug residues increases health damage, and the addition of a selenium-rich diet to reduce this harm. effectiveness has been evaluated.

Every day, people are exposed to external substances that can be harmful to their health through their environment and diet. For example, metal and pharmaceutical residues contaminate water and food when ingested in large quantities, creating mixtures in which they interact, thereby increasing their individual toxicity.

Analyzing the effects of environmental pollution on living organisms is essential for developing regulations that define maximum doses to people of these pollutants. But what about mixtures of contaminants? What happens when different compounds interact, even in the face of acceptable doses?

To understand the health effects of exposure to these “cocktails of pollutants,” the University of Córdoba Department of Chemistry and Molecular Science, consisting of Nieves Abril, Paula Huertas, María José Prieto, and Juan Jurado, A team from the Department of Biology conducted the following evaluation using mice. The toxicity of mixtures of pollutants that are very common in the environment and accumulate along the food chain. It is a combination of metals (arsenic, cadmium, mercury) and drugs (diclofenac, flumequin).

The paper will be published in a magazine Total environmental science.

To find out how these compounds interact, “we studied controlled exposure of mice to this mixture and determined how it affected liver proteins, i.e. We analyzed how liver proteostasis changes when a mixture of these pollutants is ingested over a period of several weeks,” explained Professor Nieves Abril.

Their conclusion is negative. The cocktail effect creates a synergistic effect between these compounds, increasing the damage to health when the compounds work together.

“We used a large-scale protein detection technique (shotgun proteomics), which allows us to compare how proteins change in groups exposed to a mixture of pollutants compared to a control group. “We were able to do that,” April explained.

They selected 275 of the affected proteins as monitors to see what had changed and, after computer analysis, identified the altered metabolic pathways and their health implications. is completed. These analyzes revealed unbalanced defensive responses that had adverse and detrimental effects on the system.

The researchers said, “Although these pollutants separately caused oxidation within cells, when they act together, oxidation is so strong that all antioxidant defense responses are continuously activated without being deactivated.” “We know that it gets activated, and it ends up causing damage and causing a lot of health problems.” The protein stops working. ”

The analysis showed sustained expression of a response mediated by NRF2, a regulator that turns on most of the antioxidant defenses, which led to reduced stress.

Selenium as hope

The study also offers hope, as selenium could be a way to reduce the harm caused by exposure to these pollutants. A third group of mice received selenium, a mineral commonly found in over-the-counter vitamin supplements, and proteomic analysis showed that the molecular damage caused by the contaminant was reduced.

Selenium itself is an oxidant, but in low doses it activates reactions in a controlled manner, predisposing the body to better defenses. The results of this experiment expand our knowledge of the effects of pollutants to which society is exposed on a daily basis, and provide insight into how the use of selenium can reduce the harm caused by pollutants.

For more information:
Paula V. Huertas-Abril et al. Proteomic analysis of hepatic responses to pollutant mixtures in mice. Due to the protective effect of selenium, Total environmental science (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166558

Magazine information:
Total environmental science



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