Affiliation: Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, 4209 State Route 44, Rootstown, OH 44272, USA.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) happens to be one of the most lethal cancers in the world. Even though most cases occur in the developing world, reported cases in Western Europe as well as North America are on a steep rise. Human HCC etiology includes chronic liver disease, viral hepatitis, alcoholism, iron overload as well as dietary carcinogens such as aflatoxins and nitrosoamines. Surgical resection as well as liver transplants, which are currently used to treat HCC, is mostly ineffective. Consequently, there exists a decisive requirement to explore possible alternative chemopreventive and therapeutic strategies for HCC. Both oxidative stress and inflammatory mechanisms have been implicated in the pathophysiology of HCC. The use of dietary antioxidants and micronutrients has been proposed as an effective means for successful management of human HCC. Trace elements such as vanadium and selenium are involved in several major metabolic pathways as well as antioxidant defense systems. Selenium has been shown to be involved in the prevention of numerous chronic illnesses such as several specific cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. This review examines the potential role of selenium in the prevention and treatment of HCC. The in vivo and in vitro effects of selenium and the mechanisms involved in preclinical models of liver cancer are critically reviewed in this article. The chemopreventive and therapeutic effects of selenium are reviewed especially in relation to its antioxidant property. Future directions and potential challenges involved in the advance of selenium use in the prevention and treatment of liver cancer are also discussed.