Zika Virus Outcome linked to Selenium Status and/or Mercury Contamination.
Whole Foods magazine reports that inadequate selenium levels are a cofactor in the outcome of Zika infections. http://www.wholefoodsmagazine.com/news/breaking-news/researchers-link-zika-outcome-to-selenium-status/ The article discusses the mechanism by which low selenium status may increase risk of Zika-related birth defects and neurological damage is postulated by North Carolina researchers. University of North Carolina Greensboro Biochemist Ethan Will Taylor, PhD and High Point University Pharmacy Professor Jan Ruzicka, Pharm D, PhD, may have unraveled the mechanism that causes the birth defect microcephaly (being born with a small head) in children of Zika virus-infected mothers. They propose that Zika virus may cause these problems by mimicking the effects of a little known genetic disease called PCCA, a key symptom of which is progressive microcephaly. The link to selenium is that, via something called antisense interactions, Zika virus may block the body’s ability to synthesize certain selenium-containing proteins known as selenoproteins, creating a situation that is similar to the genetic defect in PCCA. Such a loss of selenium-dependent functions results in many health problems, especially those related to the brain and nervous system. Thus, the latest Taylor and Ruzicka research implies that low dietary selenium status could be a risk factor for Zika-related neurological and fetal abnormalities such as microcephaly.
Several previous studies of SePP knockout mice, it was found that supplementation of maternal drinking water with sodium selenite was able to significantly reduce the neurological and growth deficits in newborn mice despite their lack of the SePP gene, presumably by supplying non-protein bound selenium directly to the brain via the placenta and mother’s milk. This suggests a similar approach with Zika virus-infected pregnant women might help to reduce the risk of Zika-induced fetal abnormalities. It is critically important to note that in the relevant published research on SePP knockout mice, inorganic sodium selenite was more effective in this regard than organic forms of selenium.