Selenium and male fertility

Published on November 1, 2007 Updated on August 31, 2016   52 min

A selection of talks on Biochemistry

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Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Matilde Maiorino. I serve as a professor of biochemistry in Italy at the University of Padova. My main research interest is focused on the biochemistry and the physiological function of glutathione peroxidases.
In this talk, you will be introduced to a brief history of Selenium, how Selenium is incorporated into proteins which are the selenoproteins in eukaryotes. I will then focus on one of them, GPx4, and I will show you how the chemistry of GPx4 impacts on cell life and fertility.
Selenium was identified by the Swedish chemist Berzelius 200 years ago. It was named after the Greek name of the moon, Selene. This was because the new compound shared some chemical properties with Tellurium which is named after the Latin name of the Earth, Tellus.
In this slide, you can perceive that in the US soil, Selenium is not regularly distributed. Its concentration can change more than 50 times indeed, from 0.1 part-per million, which should be considered a deficient amount, to more than 5 part-per million that is definitely very high. A similar jeopardized distribution is observed in other areas of the world, for instance, in China.
Soil Selenium content controls the amount of Selenium available in the food. Selenium enters the food chain through plants. Plants of the genus Astragalus, as you see in this slide, absorb the element in the soil and can concentrate Selenium in their tissue, returning it to the soil in a soluble form, which is readily taken up by more commonly raised herbaceous plants. Selenium rich soil, is indeed a problem for grazing animals that may introduce too much Selenium.