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Concept: Selenium


Selenium (Se) is an essential human micronutrient with critical roles in immune functioning and antioxidant defence. Estimates of dietary Se intakes and status are scarce for Africa although crop surveys indicate deficiency is probably widespread in Malawi. Here we show that Se deficiency is likely endemic in Malawi based on the Se status of adults consuming food from contrasting soil types. These data are consistent with food balance sheets and composition tables revealing that >80% of the Malawi population is at risk of dietary Se inadequacy. Risk of dietary Se inadequacy is >60% in seven other countries in Southern Africa, and 22% across Africa as a whole. Given that most Malawi soils cannot supply sufficient Se to crops for adequate human nutrition, the cost and benefits of interventions to alleviate Se deficiency should be determined; for example, Se-enriched nitrogen fertilisers could be adopted as in Finland.

Concepts: Human, Agriculture, Nutrition, Africa, Dietary mineral, Nitrogen, Selenium, Madagascar


In competitive thermoelectric devices for energy conversion and generation, high-efficiency materials of both n-type and p-type are required. For this, Bi2Te3-based alloys have the best thermoelectric properties in room temperature applications. Partial replacement of tellurium by selenium is expected to introduce new donor states in the band gap, which would alter electrical conductivity and thermopower. We report on the preparation of n-type Bi2(Te1-xSex)3 solid solutions by a straightforward arc-melting technique, yielding nanostructured polycrystalline pellets. X-ray and neutron powder diffraction was used to assess Se inclusion, also indicating that the interactions between quintuple layers constituting this material are weakened upon Se doping, while the covalency of intralayer bonds is augmented. Moreover, scanning electron microscopy shows large surfaces perpendicular to the c crystallographic axis assembled as stacked sheets. Grain boundaries related to this 2D nanostructuration affect the thermal conductivity reducing it below 0.8 Wm(-1)K(-1) at room temperature. Furthermore, Se doping increases the absolute Seebeck coefficient up to -140 μV K(-1) at 400 K, which is also beneficial for improved thermoelectric efficiency.

Concepts: Electron, Crystallography, Semiconductor, Solid, Bismuth telluride, Electrical conductivity, Selenium, Thermoelectric effect


Some observational studies suggest that a higher selenium status is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer but have been generally too small to provide precise estimates of associations, particularly by disease stage and grade.

Concepts: Scientific method, Cancer, Metastasis, Prostate cancer, Radiation therapy, Screening, Selenium, Vitamin E


Deficiencies of micronutrients, including essential trace elements, affect up to 3 billion people worldwide. The dietary availability of trace elements is determined largely by their soil concentrations. Until now, the mechanisms governing soil concentrations have been evaluated in small-scale studies, which identify soil physicochemical properties as governing variables. However, global concentrations of trace elements and the factors controlling their distributions are virtually unknown. We used 33,241 soil data points to model recent (1980-1999) global distributions of Selenium (Se), an essential trace element that is required for humans. Worldwide, up to one in seven people have been estimated to have low dietary Se intake. Contrary to small-scale studies, soil Se concentrations were dominated by climate-soil interactions. Using moderate climate-change scenarios for 2080-2099, we predicted that changes in climate and soil organic carbon content will lead to overall decreased soil Se concentrations, particularly in agricultural areas; these decreases could increase the prevalence of Se deficiency. The importance of climate-soil interactions to Se distributions suggests that other trace elements with similar retention mechanisms will be similarly affected by climate change.

Concepts: Human, Chemistry, Water pollution, Soil, Chemical element, Carbon, Climate change, Selenium


While interesting and unprecedented material characteristics of two dimensionality (2-D) layered nanomaterials are emerging, their reliable synthetic methodologies are not well developed. In this study we demonstrate general applicability of synthetic protocols to a wide range of colloidal 2-D layered transition-metal chalcogenide (TMC) nanocrystals. As distinctly different from other nanocrystals, we discovered that 2-D layered TMC nanocrystals are unstable in the presence of reactive radicals from elemental chalcogen during the crystal formation. We first introduce the synthesis of titanium sulfide and selenide where well-defined single crystallinity and lateral size controllability are verified, and then such synthetic protocols are extended to all of group IV and V transition-metal sulfide (TiS(2), ZrS(2), HfS(2), VS(2), NbS(2), and TaS(2)) and selenide (TiSe(2), ZrSe(3), HfSe(3), VSe(2), NbSe(2), and TaSe(2)) nanocrystals. The use of appropriate chalcogen source is found to be critical for the successful synthesis of 2-D layered TMC nanocrystals. CS(2) is an efficient chalcogen precursor for metal sulfide nanocrystals, whereas elemental Se is appropriate for metal selenide nanocrystals. We briefly discuss the effects of reactive radical characteristics of elemental S and Se on the formation of 2-D layered TMC nanocrystals.

Concepts: Crystal, Dimension, Radical, Selenium, Sulfide, Radicalism, Chalcogen


Taking into account the promising pharmacological actions of (Z)-2,3-bis(4-chlorophenylselanyl) prop-2-en-1-ol) (bis selenide), an organic compound containing the trace element selenium, and the constant search for drugs that improve the cognitive performance, the objective of the present study was to investigate whether bis selenide treatment ameliorates memory deficits induced by reserpine in rats. For this aim, male adult rats received a single subcutaneous injection of reserpine (1 mg/kg), a biogenic amine-depleting agent used to induce memory deficit. After 24 h, bis selenide at doses of 25 and 50 mg/kg was administered to rats by intragastric route, and 1 h later, the animals were submitted to behavior tasks. The effects of acute administration of bis selenide on memory were evaluated by social recognition, step-down passive avoidance, and object recognition paradigms. Exploratory and locomotor activities of rats were determined using the open-field test. Analysis of data revealed that the social memory disruption caused by reserpine was reversed by bis selenide at both doses. In addition, bis selenide, at the highest dose, prevented the memory deficit resulting from reserpine administration to rats in step-down passive avoidance and object recognition tasks. No significant alterations in locomotor and exploratory behaviors were found in animals treated with reserpine and/or bis selenide. Results obtained from distinct memory behavioral paradigms revealed that an acute treatment with bis selenide attenuated memory deficits induced by reserpine in rats.

Concepts: Psychology, Pharmacology, Organic compound, Dose, Behavior, Human behavior, Selenium, Deficit


Oxidative stress is an established dementia pathway, but it is unknown if the use of antioxidant supplements can prevent dementia.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Antioxidant, Oxidative stress, Dementia, Vitamin C, Selenium, Caregiving and dementia, Vitamin E


Selenium (Se) is an essential dietary mineral and Radix puerariae (RP) (the dried root of Pueraria lobata Willd.) is a botanical supplement widely used as a nutraceutical. Food enriched with Se provides a feasible and economic approach for production of organic Se compounds. However, little is known about Se-enriched RP and the structure of Se-containing polysaccharides and proteins derived from Se-enriched RP.

Concepts: Protein, Nutrition, Dietary supplement, Dietary mineral, Selenium, Kudzu, Phaseoleae, Pueraria


Two experiments were conducted on broiler chickens to compare the effect of a new organic Se source, 2-hydroxy-4-methylselenobutanoic acid (HMSeBA; SO), with two practical Se additives, sodium selenite (SS) and Se yeast (SY). The relative bioavailability of the different Se sources was compared on muscle (pectoralis major) total Se, selenomethionine (SeMet) and selenocysteine (SeCys) concentrations and apparent digestibility of total Se (ADSe). In the first experiment, from day (d) 0 to d21, Se sources were tested at different supplied levels and compared with an unsupplemented diet (NC). No significant effects were observed on growth performance during the experimental period. However, the different Se sources and levels improved muscle Se concentration compared with the NC, with a significant source effect in the following order: SS < SY < SO (P< 0·05). Seleno-amino acids speciation results for NC, SY and SO at 0·3 mg Se/kg feed indicated that muscle Se was only present as SeMet or SeCys, showing a full conversion of Se by the bird. The second experiment (d0-d24) compared SS, SY or SO at 0·3 mg Se/kg feed. The ADSe measurements carried out between d20 and d23 were 24, 46 and 49 % for SS, SY and SO, respectively, with significant differences between the organic and mineral Se sources (P< 0·05). These results confirmed the higher bioavailability of organic Se sources compared with the mineral source and demonstrated a significantly better efficiency of HMSeBA compared with SY for muscle Se enrichment.

Concepts: Protein, Chemistry, Dietary mineral, Experiment, Trigraph, Gh, Selenium, Selenomethionine


As an inorganic photoabsorber, selenium was used in a mesoscopic solar cell with a hybrid organic-inorganic structure of TiO2/Se/P3HT/PEDOT:PSS/Ag, in which the Se layer was prepared by vacuum thermal deposition and post thermal treatment. The microstructure, photoelectrical properties, as well as the rationality in structural design of the solar cell were illustrated in detail. Finally, the hybrid solar cell demonstrated a photoelectric conversion efficiency of 2.63%.

Concepts: Photoelectric effect, Solar cell, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Selenium, Copper indium gallium selenide, Photovoltaic effect, Aleksandr Stoletov