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Organoselenium Compounds as Potential Therapeutic and Chemopreventive Agents: A Review

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Selenium is an essential trace element. It is, however toxic at concentration little above which is required for health. Selenium is incorporated into proteins as selenocysteine, the 21st amino acid. Selenoproteins are found in bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. Biochemical and physicochemical properties of selenium result in the unique redox characteristics of selenocysteine and its use in antioxidant enzymes. In this context of a redox reaction is the reduction of reactive oxygen metabolites by glutathione peroxidases, helping to maintain membrane integrity, reduces the oxidative damage to lipids, lipoproteins, and DNA. Selenium has structural and enzymatic roles. Selenium influences a number of endocrine processes, most notably, those involved in thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism. Se is needed for the proper functioning of the immune system, a role in viral suppression, AIDS, and also is implicated in delaying the aging process. Its deficiency has been linked to a number of disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, and diseases of the liver, and it is required for sperm motility and may reduce the risk of miscarriage.

Se supplementation has recently moved from the realm of correcting nutritional deficiencies to one of pharmacological intervention, especially in the clinical domain of cancer chemoprevention.

During the last few years, a tremendous effort has been directed toward the synthesis of stable organoselenium compounds that could be used as antioxidants, enzyme modulators, antitumor, antimicrobials, antihypertensive agents, antivirals and cytokine inducers.

The biochemistry and pharmacology of selenium-based compounds are subjects of intense current interest, especially from the point of view of public heath. The purpose of this review is to discuss the recent pharmacological applications of organoselenium compounds as therapeutic agents in the treatment of several diseases.
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Keywords: antimicrobials; antioxidants; antitumor; antivirals; enzyme modulators; organoselenium compounds

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Departamento de Bioquimica, Instituto de Quimica, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Circuito Exterior, C.U., Delegacion Coyoacan, Mexico D.F. 04510, Mexico

Publication date: 2004-06-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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