Has Selenium a Chemopreventive Effect on Hepatocellular Carcinoma?
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most lethal cancers in the world. Its etiology includes chronic liver disease, viral hepatitis, alcoholism, and hepatic cirrhosis. Both oxidative stress and inflammatory mechanisms have been implicated in HCC pathophysiology. Surgical resection and liver transplants are currently used to treat HCC. Consequently, there exists a decisive requirement to explore possible alternative chemopreventive and therapeutic strategies for HCC. The use of dietary antioxidants and micronutrients has been proposed as a useful means for the HCC management. Trace elements such as selenium are involved in several major metabolic pathways as well as antioxidant defense systems. In particular, selenium is an important oligo-element that plays a central role in cellular redox processes even if the amount necessary for the cell functions is in a very narrow range. However, selenium is involved in the prevention of numerous chronic diseases and cancers. This review will examine the potential role of selenium in HCC prevention and treatment and, in detail, focus on: i) description of selenium in biological systems and in mammalian proteins, ii) involvement of selenium in HCC, iii) in vivo and in vitro effects of selenium in preclinical models of HCC and iv) potential challenges involved in the selenium use in the prevention and treatment of HCC.