, Volume 56, Issue 6, pp 959–964 | Cite as

Selenium-Based Antihypertensives

Rationale and Potential
  • Sheldon W. May
  • Stanley H. Pollock
Leading Article


Selenium, long recognised as an important ‘dietary antioxidant’, is now known to be an essential component of the active sites of a number of enzymes, including the glutathione peroxidase selenoenzyme family which scavenge hydroperoxides to prevent cellular damage. Dietary selenium deficiency has been linked to diseases as diverse as cancer, heart disease, arthritis and AIDS, and epidemiological evidence is now emerging for the beneficial effects of selenium supplementation. Thus, the pharmacology, biology and biochemistry of selenium metabolism have become subjects of considerable interest, which are spurring efforts to develop synthetic selenium-containing compounds as potential therapeutic agents.

Phenylaminoalkyl selenides were developed in the authors’ laboratories as novel, selenium-based pharmacological agents. We demonstrated that these compounds exhibited dose-dependent antihypertensive activity in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Biochemical studies established that as a consequence of the redox properties of their selenium moieties, these phenylaminoalkyl selenides possessed the remarkable property of propagating a cycle of turnover-dependent local depletion of reduced ascorbate when processed by the key enzyme of catecholamine metabolism, dopamine-β-monooxygenäse.

On the basis of inductively coupled plasma/mass spectroscopic analyses, corroborated by operant behaviour and locomotor activity investigations, an orally-active phenylaminoalkyl selenide with restricted CNS permeability was successfully developed. To our knowledge, this compound -4-hydroxy-α-methyl-phenyl-2-aminoethyl selenide —is the first orally active, selenium-based anti-hypertensive compound ever reported. In the future, we anticipate more widespread efforts to incorporate selenium into rationally designed pharmaceutical agents, with the goal of developing novel compounds which may be of therapeutic benefit toward a variety of human diseases.


Selenium Adis International Limited Selenide Selenium Supplementation Ebselen 
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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheldon W. May
    • 1
  • Stanley H. Pollock
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology and School of PharmacyMercer UniversityAtlantaUSA

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