The good folks over at Science News asked me to comment recently on a new paper in the Journal of Neuroscience discussing the competition between the brain and testes for selenium in mice, with ballgame firmly in favour of the, ahem, underdog when selenium levels are scarce.
My epic contribution to this story can be summed up in this excerpt:
The results are some of the first to show competition between two organs for trace nutrients, says analytical neurochemist Dominic Hare of the University of Technology Sydney and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne. In addition to uncovering this brain-testes scuffle, the study “highlights that selenium in the brain is something we can’t continue to ignore,” he says.
In this paper, the authors examined what happens to selenoprotein hierarchy when mice were castrated, showing that the neurological effects of a selenium deficient diet early in life can be prevented by removing the competing organs. Though this isn’t exactly a workable solution for places like northern China, where selenium deficiency is endemic, it does shine some more light into a burgeoning field of bioelement research – just how important is selenium for normal brain function?
I’d say the ball is in your court, but I think all signs point to very much so.