We have previously suggested that an inherent defect in hepatic haem utilization was responsible for the rapid stimulation of hepatic microsomal haem oxygenase activity observed in selenium-deficient rats given phenobarbital, a well known inducer of haem formation. To test this hypothesis, hepatic haem content was deliberately raised in selenium-deficient rats by administration of either tryptophan or allylisopropylacetamide, or by injecting haem itself. We now report that selenium-deficient rats are apparently relatively less efficient in utilizing hepatic haem than normal controls. The findings detailed in the present paper thus indicate that stimulation of hepatic microsomal haem oxygenase activity is indeed a manifestation of abnormal haem utilization in selenium deficiency. This suggests a novel role for selenium in hepatic haem metabolism.
- © 1983 London: The Biochemical Society