Selenium (Se) is an essential nutrient which plays a key antioxidant/catalytic role in animal and human physiology through its incorporation into enzymes involved in defense against oxidative stress, regulation of redox status and metabolic modulation of thyroid hormones activities [1-4]. 
Se is required in particular for reproductive and immune functions and its involvement has been shown in metabolic syndrome as well as in aging [5,6]. 
In addition, Se deficiency can occur in people dependent on food grown from Se-deficient soil, as well as in people with severely compromised intestinal function, or those undergoing total parenteral nutrition. In this context, Se supplementation - either alone or in combination - is essential for the treatment or the prophylaxis of deficiencies, and there is a growing interest for health nutrition and clinical indications [7,8].
 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently concluded [9,10] that a cause and effect relationship has been established between dietary intake of selenium and various health benefits in the general population, i.e., that selenium contributes to

  • the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage,

  • the normal function of the immune system,

  • normal thyroid function,

  • normal spermatogenesis function,

  • the maintenance of normal hair

  • and the maintenance of normal nails


Se is present in the food chain in two forms, mineral and organic, in which sodium selenate/selenite and L-selenomethionine (SeMet) are the major representative compounds, respectively. In higher animals and humans, Se intake occurs mainly through SeMet. Moreover, this selenoorganic compound is characterized by better bioavailability and lower toxicity than inorganic sources of Se [11].


Based on a new concept of SeMet precursor, we have designed Se-containing molecules which are novel organic compounds [12]. The basic structure NutraSelen® (THD-177), i.e., D,L-2-hydroxy-4-(methylseleno)butanoic acid (HMSeBA), has been developed as Se source for animal nutrition and it has been shown that NutraSelen® is rapidly converted into SeMet in animals and is an effective source of Se, with a safety and bioavailability comparable to that of SeMet [13-16].



  1. The human selenoproteome: recent insights into functions and regulation ­– REEVES M.A., and HOFFMANN P.R. – 2009 – Cell. Mol. Life Sci., 66:2457-2478

  2. Selenium and thyroid – KOHRLE J., and GARTNER R. – 2009 – Best Pract. Res. Clin. Endocrinol., 23:815-827

  3. Glutathione peroxidases and redox-regulated transcription factors – BRIGELIUS-FLOHE R. – 2006 – Biol. Chem., 387(10-11):1329-1335

  4. Selenium and endocrine systems – BECKETT G. J., and ARTHUR J. R. – 2005 – J. Endocrinol., 184(3):455-465

  5. Selenium and brain function: a poorly recognized liaison – SCHWEIZER U., BRUER A.U., KOHRLE J., NITSCH R., and SAVASKAN N.E. – 2004 – Brain Res. Rev., 45(3):164-178

  6. Oxidants, oxidative stress and the biology of ageing – FINKEL T., and HOLBROOK N.J. – 2000 – Nature, 408:239-247

  7. Selenium and inflammation: underlying anti-inflammatory mechanisms – DUNTAS L.H. – 2009 – Horm. Metab. Res., 41(6):443-447

  8. Regulation and function of selenoproteins in human disease – BELLINGER F.P., RAMAN A.V., REEVES M.A., and BERRY M.J. – 2009 – Biochem. J., 422(1):11-22

  9. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to selenium and protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage (ID 277, 283, 286, 1289, 1290, 1291, 1293, 1751) , function of the immune system (ID 278), thyroid function (ID 279, 282, 286, 1289, 1290, 1291, 1293), function of the heart and blood vessels (ID 280), prostate function (ID 284), cognitive function (ID 285) and spermatogenesis (ID 396) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on request from the European Commission – 2009 – EFSA Journal, 7(9):1220 [24 pp.]

  10. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to selenium and maintenance of normal hair (ID 281), maintenance of normal nails (ID 281), protection against heavy metals (ID 383), maintenance of normal joints (ID 409), maintenance of normal thyroid function (ID 410, 1292), protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage (ID 410, 1292), and maintenance of the normal function of the immune system (ID 1750) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 – 2010 – EFSA Journal, 8(10):1727 [18 pp.]

  11. Selenium in Nutrition and Health – SURAI P.F. – 2007 – Nottingham University Press

  12. Patent N° FR2873376, US2006105960, WO2006008190

  13. EFSA Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP); Scientific Opinion on safety and efficacy of hydroxy-analogue of selenomethionine as feed additive for all species – 2013 – EFSA Journal, 11(1):3046 [30 pp.]

  14. Effect of 2-hydroxy-4-methylselenobutanoic acid as a dietary selenium supplement to improve the selenium concentration of table eggs – JLALI M., BRIENS M., ROUFFINEAU F., MERCERAND F., GERAERT P.A., and MERCIER Y. – 2013 – J. Anim. Sci., 91(4):1745-1752

  15. Comparative study of a new organic selenium source v. seleno-yeast and mineral selenium sources on muscle selenium enrichment and selenium digestibility in broiler chickens – BRIENS M., MERCIER Y., ROUFFINEAU F., VACCHINA V., and GERAERT P.A. – 2013 – Br. J. Nutr., 110(4):617-624
  16. Evaluation of the efficacy of 2-hydroxy-4-methylselenobutanoic acid on growth performance and tissue selenium retention in growing pigs – JLALI M., BRIENS M., ROUFFINEAU F., GERAERT P.A., and MERCIER Y. – 2013 – J. Anim. Sci., doi:10.2527/jas.2013-6783