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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 266-268

Antitumor effects of sodium selenite on acute lymphocytic leukemia

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan

Date of Submission12-Feb-2017
Date of Acceptance17-Apr-2019
Date of Web Publication07-Nov-2020

Correspondence Address:
Ayesha Siddiqa
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Punjab
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcrt.JCRT_147_17

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 > Abstract 

Selenium is obligatory for proper functioning of body as it is the part of enzyme protection system. Its both organic and inorganic forms are thought to be active as an antitumor agent. We trialed the different dosages (0 × 106 M, 2.7 × 106 M, 5.4 × 106 M, and 8.1 × 106 M) of sodium selenite given to the acute lymphocytic leukemia cell lines incubated for 24, 48, and 72 h. The ratios of dead cells to live cells when treated with sodium selenite were very high as compared to the control with no treatment. This dosage-dependent apoptosis increased with the incubation time.

Keywords: Acute lymphocytic leukemia, apoptosis, glutathione peroxidase, selenium, sodium selenite

How to cite this article:
Siddiqa A, Munir R, Faisal M. Antitumor effects of sodium selenite on acute lymphocytic leukemia. J Can Res Ther 2021;17:266-8

How to cite this URL:
Siddiqa A, Munir R, Faisal M. Antitumor effects of sodium selenite on acute lymphocytic leukemia. J Can Res Ther [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 28];17:266-8. Available from: https://www.cancerjournal.net/text.asp?2021/17/1/266/300193

 > Introduction Top

Selenium (Se) is a naturally found micronutrient mandatory for every life form from microbes to humans. Adequate levels of Se dominate an vital position in controlling the hormonal regulation and functional immune system;[1] lowering the oxidative damage to macromolecules, i.e., DNA; and producing protein and lipids. Different compounds of Se are chemopreventive in nature. Se is an important part of enzyme glutathione peroxidase (an intracellular component of cellular enzymatic protection system). Organic and inorganic forms of Se suppress the gene Osteopontin, which pronounce and induce the metastasis (Méplan and Hesketh, 2013).[2] Previous reported cases had given the idea of using Se compounds for treating cancer, but they should be administrated at the beginning of disease.[3] Se is proved to be essential in culturing the cell lines in serumfree environments as serum supply Se, which is mandatory for eukaryotic cell lines under normal conditions. Oxyanions of Se testified the modulation of cellular growth, stating strict concentration-dependent effects. Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a form of cancer, which responds to the micronutrient level alteration and oxidative damage by ROS. Patients of leukemia exhibit lesser levels of zinc along with Se in serum.[4] This study is unique in aspect that, in previous studies, they have used various concentrations of sodium selenite in treating or terminating different tumors in vivo or in vitro; however, no any report testified the use of Se salts in treating the ALL. Hence, different concentrations of Se oxyanions can be used in vivo after complete understanding in vitro.

 > Case Report Top


ALL (MOLT-3) cell line was taken from ATCC, cultured, and maintained in RPMI 1640 (ATCC, 30-2001), which was improved by adding penicillin–streptomycin solution (ATCC, 30-2300) and 10% FBS (ATCC, 30-2021) addition. The cell cultures were cultivated and incubated in the 5% atmospheric CO2 and 37°C.


The method from Watrach et al.[5] was followed for the evaluation of antitumor effect of sodium selenite on ALL. The cells were cultured and maintained in the above-mentioned media throughout the experiment. A total of 7 × 106 cells were inoculated and incubated at 37°C with relative humidity (95%) and CO2 (5%) in air. After reaching the required confluence, sodium selenite solution was added with the concentrations, i.e., 0 × 106 M, 2.7 × 106 M, 5.4 × 106 M, and 8.1 × 106 M. Sodium selenite-treated ALL cells were incubated in the above-mentioned conditions. The cells were collected after requisite incubation intervals, i.e., 24, 48, and 72 h. Viability of the treated cells was tested by Trypan Blue Exclusion method and counted in a hemocytometer. After measuring the mean of Se concentrations and exposure time, the results were calculated. The number of viable cells in treated and untreated medium was compared and stated as the rate of survival.

 > Results Top

ALL cells showed steady growth as compared to the sodium selenitetreated cells that displayed decline in the viable cells. Cells treated with Se salt concentration of 2.7 × 106 M and 5.4 × 106 M showed the gradual decline in the number of live cells with respect to the time of incubation, but the cells with 8.1 × 106 M concentration presented the high rate of mortality even after 24 h [Figure 1] and [Figure 2].
Figure 1: (a) The untreated acute lymphocytic leukemia cells as compared to the acute lymphocytic leukemia cells treated with the sodium selenite (8.1 × 106 M). (b) Change in the morphology of cells depicts the induced apoptosis

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Figure 2: (a) The exponential growth of acute lymphocytic leukemia cells alive while fewer dead cells were observed at different intervals. (b-d) Depict the gradual increase in the number of dead cells and decrease in live cells, with respect to the time intervals, at the 2.7 × 106 M, 5.4 × 106 M, and 8.1 × 106 M concentration of sodium selenite, respectively

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 > Discussion Top

The data presented here support the hypothesis that Se as sodium selenite has positive attribution in growth inhibition of leukemia in vitro, whereas other studies have reported the growth inhibition of established tumor cell lines of breast cancer[5] and prostate cancer[6] and also prevented the metastasis of tumor in mice, simultaneously asserting no harmful effects on normal diploid cell line growth. Sodium selenite demonstrates genotoxic effect by inducing single-strand DNA breaks and cytotoxicity that contrasts the double-strand breaks of DNA and apoptotic effects induced by organic forms of Se.[7] It shows comparative effects of different forms of Se. In the current experiment, ALL cells were exposed to different concentrations of sodium selenite, i.e., 2.7 × 106 M, 5.4 × 106 M, and 8.1 × 106 M, for 24, 48, and 72 h. Viable cells were counted. Longer they were exposed to the selenite, higher the number of dead cells was observed. Control leukemic cells were round and big as compared to the treated cells, which were shrunken and dead possibly due to apoptosis. Concentrations selected for this study were already in previous studies, but this study evaluated the effect of selenite on ALL; however, further studies are required whether this salt can be used in vivo to treat leukemia or not.

 > Conclusion Top

ALL is the most fatal malignant cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, in the early 20s, especially in females. Se is required by eukaryotic cells to fulfill the proper physiological functions. Clinical studies indicate the relationship of inadequate Se level and tendency of acquiring cancer. Recommended quantities of sodium selenite can be administrated to kill the leukemic leukocytes, as it triggers the apoptosis of cancerous cells without affecting the normal cells. There is still more space for research and study about the concentrations of selenite for cancer treatment and range of its effectiveness.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 > References Top

Luan Y, Zhao J, Yao H, Zhao X, Fan R, Zhao W, et al. Selenium deficiency influences the mRNA expression of selenoproteins and cytokines in chicken erythrocytes. Biol Trace Elem Res 2016;171:427-36.  Back to cited text no. 1
Méplan C, Hesketh J. Selenium and Cancer: A Story that Should not be Forgotten-Insights from Genomics. In: Zappia V, Panico S, Russo G, Budillon A, Della Ragione F. (eds) Advances in Nutrition and Cancer. Cancer Treatment and Research. Springer, Berlin: Heidelberg; 2014 p. 159.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kieliszek M, Błażejak S. Current knowledge on the importance of selenium in food for living organisms: A review. Molecules 2016;21. pii: E609.  Back to cited text no. 3
Modaressi A, Hadjibabaie M, Shamshiri Reza A, Namdar R, Abdollahi M, Ghavamzadeh A. Trace elements (Se, Zn, and Cu) levels in patients with newly diagnosed acute leukemia. Int J Hematol Oncol Stem Cell Res 2012;6:5-10.  Back to cited text no. 4
Watrach AM, Milner JA, Watrach MA, Poirier KA. Inhibition of human breast cancer cells by selenium. Cancer Lett 1984;25:41-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
Menter DG, Sabichi AL, Lippman SM. Selenium effects on prostate cell growth. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2000;9:1171-82.  Back to cited text no. 6
Sinha R, Said TK, Medina D. Organic and inorganic selenium compounds inhibit mouse mammary cell growth in vitro by different cellular pathways. Cancer Lett 1996;107:277-84.  Back to cited text no. 7


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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