Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Selenium preserves mitochondrial function, stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, and reduces infarct volume after focal cerebral ischemia

Suresh L Mehta, Santosh Kumari, Natalia Mendelev and P Andy Li*

Author Affiliations

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE), North Carolina Central University, BRITE Building 2025, 302 East Lawson Street, Durham, NC, 27707, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:79  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-79

Published: 9 July 2012



Mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the major events responsible for activation of neuronal cell death pathways during cerebral ischemia. Trace element selenium has been shown to protect neurons in various diseases conditions. Present study is conducted to demonstrate that selenium preserves mitochondrial functional performance, activates mitochondrial biogenesis and prevents hypoxic/ischemic cell damage.


The study conducted on HT22 cells exposed to glutamate or hypoxia and mice subjected to 60-min focal cerebral ischemia revealed that selenium (100 nM) pretreatment (24 h) significantly attenuated cell death induced by either glutamate toxicity or hypoxia. The protective effects were associated with reduction of glutamate and hypoxia-induced ROS production and alleviation of hypoxia-induced suppression of mitochondrial respiratory complex activities. The animal studies demonstrated that selenite pretreatment (0.2 mg/kg i.p. once a day for 7 days) ameliorated cerebral infarct volume and reduced DNA oxidation. Furthermore, selenite increased protein levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1alpha (PGC-1α) and nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1), two key nuclear factors that regulate mitochondrial biogenesis. Finally, selenite normalized the ischemia-induced activation of Beclin 1 and microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3-II (LC3-II), markers for autophagy.


These results suggest that selenium protects neurons against hypoxic/ischemic damage by reducing oxidative stress, restoring mitochondrial functional activities and stimulating mitochondrial biogenesis.

Cerebral ischemia; Glutamate; Hypoxia; Mitochondrial biogenesis; Respiratory complexes; Selenium