Creating Heart-Protective Selenium Supplements from Fungus

Jim Crocker
2nd May, 2024

Creating Heart-Protective Selenium Supplements from Fungus

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Jinan University developed Se@CM, a heart-protective compound from a fungus and selenium
  • Se@CM outperformed a known radioprotectant, reducing heart cell damage from radiation
  • In animal tests, Se@CM lessened heart dysfunction and supported immune health after radiation
Radiation therapy is a double-edged sword in cancer treatment. While it effectively targets cancerous cells, it can also damage healthy tissues, particularly in the heart when the chest area is treated. This unintended consequence is known as radiation-induced heart disease (RIHD), a condition that can lead to a range of heart problems, including inflammation of the heart lining, heart muscle weakness, and blockages in heart arteries[2][3]. With the increasing number of cancer survivors, there is a growing population at risk of RIHD, and the need for effective preventative measures is more pressing than ever. Researchers at Jinan University have made a significant advancement in the quest to protect the heart from the adverse effects of radiation[1]. Their study introduces a novel oral treatment based on Cordyceps militaris, a type of fungus with medicinal properties, infused with selenium (Se), a trace element known for its potent antioxidant capabilities. The resulting compound, named Se@CM, has been shown to offer substantial protection against the damage caused by X-ray radiation in heart cells. The study's findings are promising for several reasons. First, Se@CM has outperformed Amifostine, a known radioprotectant, in reducing the harmful effects of radiation in heart cells. It does so by curbing the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), harmful molecules that are produced in excess during and after radiation exposure, leading to oxidative stress and cell damage[4]. By keeping ROS in check, Se@CM helps maintain a balance between the production of damaging agents and the body's ability to neutralize them, preserving the heart's function and structure. Second, the benefits of Se@CM extend beyond the cellular level to actual heart health in living organisms. In animal models exposed to X-ray radiation, Se@CM treatment resulted in less cardiac dysfunction and reduced myocardial fibrosis, a stiffening of the heart muscles that can lead to heart failure. This was achieved by modulating the levels of Mn-SOD and MDA, proteins and compounds involved in the body's antioxidant response and lipid peroxidation, a process that can damage cell membranes. Furthermore, Se@CM has demonstrated an ability to maintain immune balance, which is crucial since RIHD is also characterized by immune system dysregulation[3]. After radiation exposure, Se@CM-treated subjects showed an increased population of T cells and M2 macrophages, both of which play a role in reducing inflammation and promoting tissue repair. This immunomodulatory effect is partly attributed to the role of selenium in selenoprotein expression, which is essential for both antioxidant defense and immune function. The implications of this study are significant. By offering a new, orally-administered agent that can protect the heart from radiation damage, Se@CM could become a vital component of cancer treatment regimens, particularly for patients undergoing thoracic radiation therapy. This approach could help reduce the incidence of RIHD and improve the quality of life for cancer survivors. While the study from Jinan University marks a breakthrough, further research is needed to validate these findings in human trials. The challenge lies in translating these promising results from the laboratory and animal models to safe and effective treatments for patients. Nonetheless, the research provides a foundation for developing strategies to prevent and manage RIHD, potentially changing the landscape of cancer care by mitigating one of its most harmful side effects.



Main Study

1) Biosynthesis of fungus-based oral selenium microcarriers for radioprotection and immuno-homeostasis shaping against radiation-induced heart disease.

Published 1st May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Cardiovascular complications of radiation therapy for thoracic malignancies: the role for non-invasive imaging for detection of cardiovascular disease.

3) Radiation-induced heart disease: a review of classification, mechanism and prevention.

4) Engineered nanoceria cytoprotection in vivo: mitigation of reactive oxygen species and double-stranded DNA breakage due to radiation exposure.

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