PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Seventy patients with definitive rheumatoid arthritis were matched to built 2 groups, which were double-blind and randomized allocated to supplementation with sodium-selenit 200 micrograms/d or placebo for 3 months, each. Both groups were given fish oil fatty acids (30 mg/kg body weight), DMARDS were continued throughout the study, while variations in steroids or NSAD were admitted.
Selenium concentrations in erythrocytes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis were 85.1 +/- 26 micrograms/l, and significantly lower than found in an average German population (123 +/- 23 micrograms/l). During the observation period of 3 months normal selenium concentrations were not restored, despite supplementation higher than RDA. At the end of the experimental period the selenium supplemented group showed less tender or swollen joints, and morning stiffness. Selen-supplemented patients needed less cortisone and NSAD than controls. In accordance with clinical improvement we found a decrease of laboratory indicators of inflammation (C-reactive protein, alpha 2-globuline, prostaglandin E2).
No side effects of supplementation with selenium were noted, which can be considered as adjuvant therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.