Selenium (Se) is an essential micronutrient that has several important functions in animal and human health. The biological functions of Se are carried out by selenoproteins (encoded by twenty-five genes in human and twenty-four in mice), which are reportedly present in all three domains of life. As a component of selenoproteins, Se has structural and enzymatic functions; in the latter context it is best recognized for its catalytic and antioxidant activities. In this review, we highlight the biological functions of Se and selenoproteins followed by an elaborated review of the relationship between Se and female reproductive function. Data pertaining to Se status and female fertility and reproduction are sparse, with most such studies focusing on the role of Se in pregnancy. Only recently has some light been shed on its potential role in ovarian physiology. The exact underlying molecular and biochemical mechanisms through which Se or selenoproteins modulate female reproduction are largely unknown; their role in human pregnancy and related complications is not yet sufficiently understood. Properly powered, randomized, controlled trials (intervention vs. control) in populations of relatively low Se status will be essential to clarify their role. In the meantime, studies elucidating the potential effect of Se supplementation and selenoproteins (i.e., GPX1, SELENOP, and SELENOS) in ovarian function and overall female reproductive efficiency would be of great value.
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