• Selenium;
  • tissue distribution;
  • adults;
  • infants;
  • lipofuscinosis

Abstract A low blood selenium level has previously been observed in healthy inhabitants of Finland (Westermarcket al. 1977). In this study even lower blood selenium values were observed in patients with acrodermatitis entero-pathica, dystrophia musculorum progressiva (Duchenne), infantile and juvenile type of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), severe mental retardation caused by various factors, and myocardial infarction. The selenium content of the brain, heart, kidney and liver in patients of different ages was also determined. The highest selenium level was found in the kidney. The mean liver selenium concentrations in stillborn, premature and full-term neonates were 1.11 ± 0.23 (8), 1.21 ± 0.17 (12) and 0.93 ± 0.16 γg/g dry weight (12) respectively (the number of subjects in parentheses). The selenium values are considerably higher than those in infants of from one to nine months of age and adults, whose liver selenium values were 0.58 ± 0.21 (8) and 0.67 ± 0.08 γg/g dry weight (8) respectively. The vitamin E levels of serum in patients with NCL, as well as in subjects with severe mental retardation (controls), were low compared with values in healthy normal subjects. Sodium selenite supplementation in patients with NCL produced at least a transitory improvement without causing any toxic effects during one year of administration.