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Logo of bmcpsycBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Psychiatry
BMC Psychiatry. 2012; 12: 72.
Published online Jul 3, 2012. doi:  10.1186/1471-244X-12-72
PMCID: PMC3441866
Selenium level and depressive symptoms in a rural elderly Chinese cohort
Sujuan Gao,corresponding author1,9 Yinlong Jin,2 Frederick W Unverzagt,3 Chaoke Liang,2 Kathleen S Hall,3 Jingxiang Cao,2 Feng Ma,2 Jill R Murrell,4 Yibin Cheng,2 Ping Li,5 Jianchao Bian,6 and Hugh C Hendrie3,7,8
1Department of Biostatistics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA
2Institute for Environmental Health and Related Product Safety, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China
3Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA
4Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA
5Sichuan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China, Chengdu, China
6Shandong Institute for Prevention and Treatment of Endemic Disease in China, Jinan, China
7Indiana University Center for Aging Research, Indianapolis, IN, USA
8Regenstrief Institute, Inc., Indianapolis, IN, USA
9Department of Biostatistics, Indiana University School of Medicine, 410 West 10th Street, Suite 3000, Indianapolis, IN, 46202-2872, USA
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Sujuan Gao: sgao/at/; Yinlong Jin: Jinyinlong1951/at/; Frederick W Unverzagt: funverza/at/; Chaoke Liang: ckliang/at/; Kathleen S Hall: khall/at/; Jingxiang Cao: caojingxiang/at/; Feng Ma: mafeng.117/at/; Jill R Murrell: jrmurrel/at/; Yibin Cheng: Ybcheng123/at/; Ping Li: l55p126/at/; Jianchao Bian: bianjc1008/at/; Hugh C Hendrie: hhendri/at/
Received March 13, 2012; Accepted June 20, 2012.
Selenium is considered a protective agent against free radicals through the maintenance of better enzyme activity. The few studies examining the relationship between selenium and depression have yielded inconsistent results and none of these studies considered the role of cognitive function in this context.
A cross-sectional evaluation of 1737 rural Chinese age 65 and over from two provinces in China was conducted. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Cognitive function was assessed using various cognitive instruments. Selenium measures were obtained from nail samples. Other information collected included demographic characteristics and medical history. Analysis of covariance models were used to identify factors associated with GDS score.
Higher selenium levels were associated with lower GDS scores adjusting for demographic and medical conditions (p = 0.0321). However, the association between selenium and depressive symptoms was no longer significant when cognitive function score was adjusted in the model (p = 0.2143).
Higher selenium level was associated with lower depressive symptoms without adjusting for cognition in this cohort. However, after cognition was adjusted in the model the association between selenium and depressive symptoms was no longer significant, suggesting that selenium’s association with depressive symptoms may be primarily through its association with cognitive function.
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