Plasma selenium decrease during pregnancy is associated with glucose intolerance

Wayne Chris Hawkes, Zeynep Alkan, Kara Lang, Janet C. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


There is an increased requirement for selenium during pregnancy, presumably for fetal growth, which manifests as decreasing maternal blood and tissue selenium concentrations. These decreases are greater in pregnant women with gestational or preexisting diabetes. We measured selenium status and glucose tolerance between wk 12 and 34 of gestation in 22 pregnant women. We found that the increase in blood glucose in response to an oral glucose challenge at 12 wk gestation and the increase in fasting glucose during pregnancy were inversely correlated with plasma selenium concentration. Women with lower plasma glutathione peroxidase activities during pregnancy also tended to have higher fasting glucose levels. These inverse relationships between selenium status and glucose tolerance are consistent with earlier observations that suggest a link between selenium and glucose metabolism. The observation that changes in serum glucose were not accompanied by changes in insulin suggests that selenium may affect glucose metabolism downstream from insulin, or through independent energy regulatory pathways such as thyroid hormone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-29
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Diabetes
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Pregnancy
  • Se

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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