Open Access Case report

Selenium: a brief review and a case report of selenium responsive cardiomyopathy

Abdulrahman Al-Matary1*, Mushtaq Hussain12 and Jaffar Ali34

Author affiliations

1 Department of Neonatology, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

2 Neonatal ICU, Mid Western Regional Maternity Hospital, Ennis Road, Limerick, Ireland

3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4 Stem Cell Unit, Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Citation and License

BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-39

Published: 25 March 2013



The authors review the role of selenium and highlight possible low selenium levels in soil that may result in deficient states in Saudi Arabia.

Case presentation

The authors report a case of selenium-responsive cardiomyopathy in a 15-month old Saudi Arabian boy. This case of selenium deficiency causing dilated cardiomyopathy is presented with failure to thrive, prolonged fever and respiratory distress. The investigations revealed selenium deficiency. Selenium supplementation along with anti-failure therapy [Furosimide, Captopril] was administered for 6 months. Following therapy the cardiac function, hair, skin and the general health of the patient improved significantly.


The patient with dilated cardiomyopathy of unknown etiology, not responding to usual medication may be deficient in selenium. Serum selenium measurements should be included in the diagnostic work-up to ensure early detection and treatment of the disease. The selenium level in the Saudi population needs be determined. Vulnerable populations have to undergo regular selenium measurements and supplementation if indicated. Dependence on processed foods suggests that the Saudi population fortify themselves with nutrient and micronutrient supplements in accordance to the RDA.

Dilated cardiomyopathy; Glutathione; Peroxidase; Keshan disease; Selenoproteins; Selenium deficiency; Micronutrients deficiency