Selenium nanoparticles act as an intestinal p53 inhibitor mitigating chemotherapy-induced diarrhea in mice

Feng Sun, Jiajia Wang, Ximing Wu, Chung S. Yang, Jinsong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Selenium, at high-dose levels approaching its toxicity, protects tissues from dose-limiting toxicities of many cancer chemotherapeutics without compromising their therapeutic effects on tumors, there by allowing the delivery of higher chemotherapeutic doses to achieve increased cure rate. In this regard, selenium nanoparticles (SeNPs), which show the lowest toxicity among extensively investigated selenium compounds including methylselenocysteine and selenomethionine, are more promising for application. The key issue remains to be resolved is whether low-toxicity SeNPs possess a selective protective mechanism. p53 or p53-regulated thrombospondin-1 has each been confirmed to be an appropriate target for therapeutic suppression to reduce side effects of anticancer therapy. The present study demonstrated that SeNPs transiently suppressed the expression of many intestinal p53-associated genes in healthy mice. SeNPs did not interfere with tumor-suppressive effect of nedaplatin, a cisplatin analogue; however, effectively reduced nedaplatin-evoked diarrhea. Nedaplatin-induced diarrhea was associated with activation of intestinal p53 and high expression of intestinal thrombospondin-1. The preventive effect of SeNPs on nedaplatin-induced diarrhea was correlated with a powerful concomitant suppression of p53 and thrombospondin-1. Moreover, the high-dose SeNPs used in the present study did not suppress growth nor caused liver and kidney injuries as well as alterations of hematological parameters in healthy mice. Overall, the present study reveals that chemotherapeutic selectivity conferred by SeNPs involves a dual suppression of two well-documented targets, the p53 and thrombospondin-1, providing mechanistic and pharmacologic insights on low-toxicity SeNPs as a potential chemoprotectant for mitigating chemotherapy-induced diarrhea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104475
JournalPharmacological Research
StatePublished - Nov 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology


  • Chemotherapy
  • Diarrhea
  • Nedaplatin
  • Selenium nanoparticles
  • Thrombospondin-1
  • p53


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