Effects of Dietary Selenium, Sulphur and Copper Levels on Selenium Concentration in the Serum and Liver of Lamb

  • Netto, Arlindo Saran (Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Animal Science and Food Engineering, University of Sao Paulo) ;
  • Zanetti, Marcus Antonio (Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Animal Science and Food Engineering, University of Sao Paulo) ;
  • Correa, Lisia Bertonha (Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Animal Science and Food Engineering, University of Sao Paulo) ;
  • Del Claro, Gustavo Ribeiro (Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Animal Science and Food Engineering, University of Sao Paulo) ;
  • Salles, Marcia Saladini Vieira (Regional Poles of technological development of agribusiness - APTA) ;
  • Vilela, Flavio Garcia (Department of Nutrition and Animal Production, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Sao Paulo)
  • Received : 2013.12.14
  • Accepted : 2014.02.19
  • Published : 2014.08.01


Thirty-two lambs were distributed in eight treatments under $2{\times}2{\times}2$ factorial experiment to compare the effects of two levels of selenium (0.2 to 5 mg/kg dry matter [DM]), sulphur (0.25% and 0.37%) and copper (8 and 25 mg/kg DM) levels on selenium concentration in liver and serum of lambs. A liver biopsy was done on all animals and blood samples were collected from the jugular vein prior to the beginning of the treatments. The blood was sampled every thirty days and the liver was sampled after 90 days, at the slaughter. Increasing differences were noticed during the data collection period for the serum selenium concentration, and it was found to be 0.667 mg/L in animals fed with 5 mg Se/kg DM and normal sulphur and copper concentrations in their diet. However, a three-way interaction and a reduction of selenium concentration to 0.483 mg/L was verified when increasing copper and sulphur concentration levels to 25 ppm and 0.37% respectively. The liver selenium concentration was also high for diets containing higher selenium concentrations, but the antagonist effect with the increased copper and sulphur levels remained, due to interactions between these minerals. Therefore, for regions where selenium is scarce, increasing its concentration in animal diets can be an interesting option. For regions with higher levels of selenium, the antagonistic effect of interaction between these three minerals should be used by increasing copper and sulphur dietary concentrations, thus preventing possible selenium poisoning.




  1. Langlands, J. P., J. E. Bowles, G. E. Donald, and A. J. Smith. 1984. Deposition of copper, manganese, selenium and zinc in Merino sheep. Aust. J. Agric. Res. 35:701-707.
  2. Levander, O. A. 1986. Selenium. In: Trace elements in Human and Animal Nutrition (Ed. W. Mertz). Academic Press, New York. 2:209-279.
  3. National Research Council. 2007 Nutrient Requirements of Small Ruminants. 7 ed. National Academic Press, Washington, DC, USA. 384 p.
  4. Olson, O. E., I. S. Palmer, and E. E. Cary. 1975. Modification of the official fluorimetric method for selenium in plants. J. Assoc. Agric. Chem. 58:117-121.
  5. Orden, E. A., A. B. Serra, S. D. Serra, K. Nakamura, L. C. Cruz, and T. Fujihara. 2000. Direct effects of copper and selenium supplementation and its subsequent effects on other plasma minerals, body weight and hematocrit count of grazing philippine goats. Asian Australas. J. Anim. Sci. 13:323-328.
  6. SAS Institute Inc. 2004. SAS Stat Guide, Release 6.03 Edition. Cary, NC, USA. 1028 p.
  7. Stowe, H. D. and T. H. Herdt. 1992. Clinical assesment of selenium status of livestock. J. Anim. Sci. 70:3928-3933.
  8. Underwood, E. J. 1981. The Mineral Nutrition of Livestock, 2nd ed. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux, Buckinghamshire, UK. 210 p.
  9. White, C. L. and M. Somers. 1977. Sulphur-selenium studies in sheep I. The effects of varying dietary sulphate and selenomethionine on sulphur, nitrogen and selenium metabolism in sheep. Aust. J. Biol. Sci. 30:47-56.
  10. Van Ryssen, J. B. L., P. S. M. Van Malsen, and F. Hartmann. 1998. Contribution of dietary sulphur to the interaction between selenium and copper in sheep. J. Agric. Sci. 130:107-114.
  11. Echevarria, M. G., P. R. Henry, C. B. Ammerman, and P. V. Rao. 1988. Effects of time and dietary selenium concentration as sodium selenite on tissue selenium uptake by sheep. J. Anim. Sci. 66:2299-2305.
  12. Fairweather-Tait, S. J. 1997. Bioavailability of selenium. Euro. J. Clin. Nutr. 51 (Suppl.1):s20-s23.
  13. Gierus, M. 2007. Organic and inorganic sources of selenium in the nutrition of dairy cows: Digestion, absorption, metabolism and requirements. Cien. Rural. 37:1212-1220.
  14. Gunter, S. A., P. A. Beck, and D. M. Hallford. 2013. Effects of supplementary selenium source on the blood parameters in beef cows and their nursing calves. Biol. Trace. Elem. Res. 152:204-211.
  15. Hartman, F. and J. B. J. Van Ryssen. 1997. Metabolism of selenium and copper in sheep with and without sodium bicarbonate suplementation. J. Agric. Sci. 128:357-364.
  16. Henry, P. R., M. G. Echevarria, C. B. Ammerman, and P. V. Rao. 1988. Estimation of the relative biological availability of inorganic selenium sources for ruminants using tissue uptake of selenium. J. Anim. Sci. 66:2306-2312.
  17. Koenig, K.M., L. M. Rode, R. D. H. Cohen, and W. T. Buckley. 1997. Effects of diet and chemical form of selenium on selenium metabolism in sheep. J. Ani. Sci. 75:817-827.
  18. Kumar, N., A. K. Garg, V. Mudgal, R. S. Dass, V. K. Chatuverdi, and V. P. Varshney. 2008. Effect of different levels of selenium supplementation on growth rate, nutrient utilization, blood metabolic profile, and immune response in lambs. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 126 (Suppl.):S44-S56.
  19. Kumar, N., A. K. Garg, R. S. Dass, V. K. Chatuverdi, V. Mudgal, and V. P. Varshney. 2009. Selenium supplementation influences growth performance, antioxidant status and immune response in lambs. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 153:77-87.
  20. Aghwan, Z. A., A. Q. Sazili, and A. R. Alimon. 2013. Blood haematology, serum thyroid hormones and glutathione peroxidase status in Kacang goats fed inorganic iodine and selenium supplemented diets. Asian Australas. J. Anim. Sci. 26:1577-1582.
  21. AOAC. 1990. Official Methods of Analysis. 15 edn. Association of Oficial Analytical Chemists. Arlington, VI, USA. p. 128.
  22. Brennan, K. M., W. R. Burris, J. A. Boling and J. C. Matthews. 2010. Effects of selenium source on blood selenium content, blood cell counts and peripheral blood mononuclear cell mRNA profiles in maturing beef heifers. FASEB J. 24 (Meeting Abstract Supplement) 916.4.
  23. Brisola, M. L. 2000. Effects of Increasing Levels of Sulfur in Diets for Lambs Subjected to Toxic Levels of Selenium. PhD Thesis, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 89 p.
  24. Cristaldi, L. A., L. R. McDowell, C. D. Buergelt, P. A. Davis, N. S. Wilkinson, and F. G. Martin. 2005. Tolerance of inorganic selenium in wether sheep. Small Rumin. Res. 56:205-213.
  25. Deagen, J. T., J. A. Butler, and M. A. Belstein. 1987. Effects of dietary selenite, selenocystine and selenomethionine on selenocysteine lyase and glutathione peroxidase activities and on selenium levels in tissues. J. Nutr. 117:91-98.
  26. Deol, H. S., J. M. Howell, and P. R. Dorling. 1994. Effect of the ingestion of heliotrope and copper on the concentration of zinc, selenium and molybdenum in the liver of sheep. J. Comp. Pathol. 110:303-307.

Cited by

  1. Predictive equations of selenium accessibility of dry pet foods vol.101, pp.3, 2016,
  2. Trace element concentrations in livers of Common Buzzards Buteo buteo from eastern Poland vol.189, pp.8, 2017,
  3. Concentrations of lead and other elements in the liver of the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), a European flagship species, wintering in Eastern Poland vol.46, pp.8, 2017,