Effect of dietary copper on selenium toxicity in Fischer 344 rats

L. Tatum, P. Shankar, L. Mallory Boylan, J. E. Spallholz

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13 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the ameliorating effects of dietary copper supplementation on selenium toxicity. Nine groups (n = 6) of weanling Fischer 344 female rats were randomly assigned to treatment groups and fed diets containing nontoxic levels of copper as CuCl2 and/or selenium as selenite or selenocystamine. Weight gain, liver and spleen weights, plasma lipid peroxidation, and liver selenium and copper content were analyzed after the 6-wk treatment period. Concentrations of up to 10 times the daily lethal dose of dietary selenium were well tolerated in rats supplemented with dietary copper. As the dietary level of selenium was increased, the ratio of selenium to copper measured in the liver decreased. In the groups of rats in which dietary copper supplementation was absent and dietary selenium was supplemented, copper stores in the liver remained unchanged from control values. Copper's protective effects from dietary selenium toxicity may come from the formation of a copper-selenide complex that renders both selenium and copper metabolically unavailable and nontoxic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Copper
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Liver
  • Selenite
  • Selenium toxicity
  • Selenocystamine


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