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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Getting Testy for Selenium: The Brain-Testes Struggle for The Element with Atomic Number 34

      Selenium, from Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon, is a gray crystalline element with atomic number 34.



      A recent study shows that, in mice, both the brain and the testes compete for selenium when selenium is scarce.  In selenium-depleted male mice, testes use up most of the selenium, leaving the brain in the lurch, scientists report in the November 18, 2015, Journal of Neuroscience.



     Since most people in the U.S. get plenty of selenium via food grown in the selenium-rich Great Plains, the correlation of this issue from mice to human data has not been confirmed.

     In fact, selenium levels which are too high are more of an issue for human health. Levels higher than 400 mg (edit: 400 mcg) a day can lead to selenosis. Supplements have been purported to help with everything from increasing antioxidants to preventing lung cancer so that misuse of selenium supplements has become a problem.




       Selenium has also been studied for the treatment of dozens of conditions from asthma to arthritis to dandruff to infertility. However, the results have been inconclusive. Selenium is naturally occurring in many foods, most prominently in Brazil nuts and these foods:




       Selenium is also the name of a browser automation system released in mid-October of this year. The name Selenium comes from a joke made by one of the creators, in an email, mocking a competitor named Mercury, noting that you can cure mercury poisoning by taking selenium supplements. And a new name was jokingly born!



           Have you heard of selenium's "magical powers?" Have you discovered the browser automation system Selenium? And lastly, what is the coat doing on the first selenium image?

Almost a full moon out there,
Selene, er, Steph

Making "Function Boxes" with second graders--an introduction to algebra: Input and output on the construction paper strips with "magic" happening inside the shoebox. F(x) has a wonderful effect ;-).










56 comments:

  1. That image strikes me a s some type of strait jacket!

    "Selenium has also been studied for the treatment of dozens of conditions from asthma to arthritis to dandruff to infertility."... >> Selenium = snake oil.

    " A recent study shows that, in mice, both the brain and the testes compete for selenium when selenium is scarce. In selenium-depleted male mice, testes use up most of the selenium, leaving the brain in the lurch..."
    Does this explain the abundance of brilliant castrato mice?

    LegoWhoseBrainCouldNotPossibleBeAnyMoreInTheLurch

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought of a swaddled baby. . .Seems a bit similar.

      One can never get enough Lurch. Thanks, Lego.

      Delete
    2. Swaddling "punishment". This made me think of Temple Grandin's "hug box."

      Delete
  2. Competition between the brain and the testes is just about the oldest story in human behavior, and the brain generally loses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is there a similar struggle between the brain and the ovaries, jan? And who wins there?

      Delete
    2. Sure: PMS, menopausal mood swings. My wife is looking for a neuroendocrine psychiatrist for a patient with severe depression that cleared only during her pregnancy. I was being flip, I guess.

      Delete
    3. You flip, jan? ;-)

      It's an interesting dilemma since what happens in the testes and ovaries affects so strongly what happens in the brain.

      Good luck to your wife's patient.She seems like an excellent candidate for hormone therapy to help with depression.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, except hormone therapy is contraindicated in her because of severe migraines.

      Delete
    5. What happened with her migraines during pregnancy?

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    6. Beats me. Not my patient.

      Delete
    7. I am wondering, on a general basis, if migraines are tolerable during pregnancy, that perhaps the hormones are worth taking post-partum anyway. Not an MD or PA, of course, but I wonder if the right minimal level of hormones could mitigate one's depression.

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    8. Such a can of worms! So many hormone levels change during pregnancy. Let's just say that the endocrine system is like the ecosystem, in that you can't push down in one place without something pushing up somewhere else. That said, I have heard of thyroid hormone being used as an adjunct to antidepressant treatment. Not familiar with any female sex hormones being used that way, but I'm sure it's been done. I'm sure the makers of transdermal testosterone drugs would like me to prescribe them to every sluggish older man with "low T".

      Delete
    9. To a layperson, it would seem replicating the hormones of pregnancy, on whatever scale is tolerable, would help with the depression.

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    10. Remember, there are intricate feedback loops at work. If everything's working normally, supplying exogenous hormone often just results in reduced production of the endogenous version.

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  3. I do believe that's supposed to be a strait jacket in the illustration. The connection is locoweed, which grows in soils rich in selenium, but the toxin that gives the plant its name is produced by an associated fungus, and has nothing to do with selenium toxicity. I found the illustration on a site that suggests that Custer's defeat at the Little Big Horn was due to his horses eating locoweed.

    BTW, it's 400 mcg (micrograms), not mg (milligrams) of selenium that's the maximum tolerable daily intake. Compare that to the 55 mcg/d recommended daily allowance -- it's a very narrow therapeutic index.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting about locoweed, the fungus, and Custer's horses.

      I shall update the text to indicate 400 mcg per day. Thanks.

      "Selenium" as a product name is rather odd. Even loco. . .

      Delete
  4. Enjoy!

    The Traveling Onion
    Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

    “It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an
    object of worship —why I haven’t been able to find out. From Egypt the onion
    entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe.” — Better Living Cookbook


    When I think how far the onion has traveled
    just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
    all small forgotten miracles,
    crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
    pearly layers in smooth agreement,
    the way the knife enters onion
    and onion falls apart on the chopping block,
    a history revealed.
    And I would never scold the onion
    for causing tears.
    It is right that tears fall
    for something small and forgotten.
    How at meal, we sit to eat,
    commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma
    but never on the translucence of onion,
    now limp, now divided,
    or its traditionally honorable career:
    For the sake of others,
    disappear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're not talking about the satirical online newspaper, are you? That's more transparent than translucent, I think ;-)

      Delete
    2. And I thought transparent was Caitlin Jenner. . .

      'Tis a lovely vegetable that gets little respect or notice. . .but which brings such zest to the Thanksgiving Table.

      A good book title for a chemist and chef? Onions: On ions.

      Delete
    3. I used to bring zest to the Thanksgiving table, with Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish. But, for the past couple of years, I've been the only one who's eaten it, so I'm taking a break for now.

      Delete
    4. I've made Mama Stamberg's relish and really liked it. The dish lets the onion shine a little.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. They are so weird. I'd never seen a video of them moving before, either. But I find the explanation of why incorporating foreign DNA is adaptive for harsh environments to be a bit of arm-waving.

      Delete
    2. Or tree branch waving. . .

      They are completely weird, even weirder moving!

      Delete
  6. Washboarding, smashboarding.

    Something odd has happened to the look of this page.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Weird. It reminded me a bit of that gash in Montana.

      Yes, I've been playing around with the settings here at PEOTS. It is 22 degrees out and slicker than snot so it's an indoor day and time to "improve" the look of this blog.

      Please (water) bear with me until I get some of those bugs worked out.

      Delete
    2. (Reminds me of the worst part of an eye exam.) Not sure I see a change from your first revision, but it looks fine now.

      Delete
    3. Exactly like an eye exam. . .but that was the uncommanded posting asking "Better?" the second time.

      That orange background on some comments was the weirdest bug. But, yes, thankfully, it's gone.

      Is the new background of Coal Mine Canyon showing up all right? (That's me asking this time ;-)).

      Delete
    4. Exactly like an eye exam. . .but that was the uncommanded posting asking "Better?" the second time.

      That orange background on some comments was the weirdest bug. But, yes, thankfully, it's gone.

      Is the new background of Coal Mine Canyon showing up all right? (That's me asking this time ;-)).

      Delete
    5. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you (just in case).

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. I'm sending that to the doctor with whom I share an office, whose picture is in the dictionary under "arachnophobia".

      Delete
    2. Glad you will share with a doc who can relate.

      Me? I love spiders, dressed as one for Halloween one year in my 20's, and am going to the Arvada Center Production of "Charlotte's Web." Kindly invite your doc friend to come along via the WEB, of course. ;-)

      Delete
  8. I enjoyed the 'function boxes' pictures.
    I think I understand the concept.
    But what sort of person has that many shoeboxes lying around?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks, Paul.

    Fortunately, I have many friends, co-workers, and neighbors who have contributed to the shoebox cause for Denver Public Schools kids.

    Some of those shoeboxes are pretty fancy, almost leather-like boxes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meat is murder. Leather is salvage.

      Delete
  10. Writing on Writing: lots of great articles here; don't miss Ingold's piece on handwriting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the purpose of writing is communication, clarity has to be paramount. My handwriting has no place in that world, and trying to decipher that of my colleagues is a waste of time and endangers patients. Give me a computer any day!

      Delete
    2. Granted. In writing Rx, you are conveying information not trying to stir up your creative genius.

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. One month late, but speaking for the Zombie-American community, I can say they taste the same, too,

      Delete
    2. A paradox:
      "An analysis of more than 100 studies found that the volume of a man’s brain is 8% to 13% greater than the volume of a woman’s brain, on average."
      Thus, if women are smarter than men, they are also more dense (brainwise).

      Delete
    3. jan, tasteful, very tasteful.

      Paul, interesting. "Dense-Brain!" is quite the compliment, then, eh?

      Delete
    4. You say compliment
      I say complement.

      Delete
    5. The average American man weighs 18% more than than the average American woman. If his brain is only 8% - 13% bigger, then proportionately, his is smaller.

      Delete
  12. New post on "The Universe IS Truly in a Grain of Sand" is up.

    ReplyDelete