Sodium selenite is commonly used as a source of selenium in biological research, where selenium is an essential trace element that is normally provided by serum. Selenium is present in selenoproteins such as glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase, which contain the selenium analog of cysteine, selenocysteine. In particular, glutathione peroxidase has a role in detoxification in vivo as a scavenger of peroxides. Sodium selenite has been utilized in studies of cell proliferation and cancer research. It has been used to alter gene expression in HepG2 cells as analyzed by cDNA microarrays. Sodium selenite can inhibit zinc finger protein/DNA interactions. Sodium selenite has been shown to alter mitochondrial membrane potentials and thus potentially contribute to apoptosis.
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