Sodium selenite alleviates breast cancer-related lymphedema independent of antioxidant defense system

Hye Won Han, Eun Joo Yang, Seung Min Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Long-term surveillance is necessary to identify patients at risk of developing secondary lymphedema after breast cancer surgery. We assessed how sodium selenite supplementation would affect breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) symptoms and parameters in association with antioxidant effects. Arandomized, double-blind, controlled trial was conducted on 26 participants with clinical stage II to III BCRL. The control group (CTRL, n=12) and selenium group (SE, n=14) underwent five sessions of 0.9% saline and 500 µg sodium selenite (Selenase®) IV injections, respectively, within 2 weeks. All patients were educated on recommended behavior and self-administered manual lymphatic drainage. Clinical diagnosis on lymphedema by physicians, bioimpedance data, blood levels of oxidative markers, including glutathione (GSH), glutathione disulfide (GSSG), malondialdehyde (MDA), glutathione peroxidase activity (GSH-Px), and serum oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) levels, were investigated at timelines defined as baseline, 2-week, and follow-up. Sodium selenite increased whole blood selenium concentration in the SE group. Compared to the baseline, at 2 weeks, 75.0% of participants in clinical stage showed improvement, while there was no change in the CTRL group. At follow-up, 83.3% and 10.0% of the SE and CTRL, respectively, showed stage changes from III to II (p = 0.002). Extracellular water (ECW) ratios were significantly reduced at 2 weeks and follow-up, only in the SE group. Blood GSH, GSSG, GSH/GSSG ratio, MDA, and ORAC levels did not change by selenium supplementation. Sodium selenite improved diagnostic stages of BCRL along with ECW ratios, although the beneficial effect might not be related to its antioxidant activity. Selenite’s effect on lymphedema may be associated with non-antioxidant properties, such as anti-inflammation and immune function. Further mechanistic research using a larger population is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1021
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was supported by the SNUBH Research, grant number 02-2012-062, and Boryung Pharmaceutical. Co. Ltd., Seoul, Korea.

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: This research was supported by the BK21 Plus project of the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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