Background: One of the major indices of immunodeficiency is lymphoid organ atrophy. Some trace elements are candidates for the treatment of this defect. These conditions may induce structural changes in the sub-components of lymphoid organs. Therefore, this study evaluated the effect of selenium on volumetric changes in dexamethasone (DEX)-induced lymphoid organ atrophy in an animal model.
Methods: This study was conducted at Histomorphometry and Stereology Research Centre, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran, in September 2016 to September 2017. Thirty-two male rats were divided into four groups: Group I; control (normal saline, 0.5 mL/kg, intraperitoneally), Group II; DEX (0.4 mg/kg; intraperitoneally), Group III; selenium plus DEX (similar to Group II and Group IV), and Group IV; selenium (0.1 mg/kg; orally). At the end of the experiment, the rats’ thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes were removed, processed, and stained by hematoxylin and eosin (H&E). The volume and volume density of theses organs were estimated by stereology. The results were analyzed using the Mann–Whitney U-test and the Kruskal–Wallis test.
Results: The volume of the thymus as well as its cortex and medulla; the volume of the spleen as well as the volume density of its white pulp, periarterial lymphatic sheath zone, and follicles; and the volume of the lymph nodes as well as their inner (P=0.001) and outer (P=0.007) cortices showed a significant reduction in the DEX-treated animals in comparison with the controls. In the DEX plus selenium-treated animals, maximum effects were observed on the increment in the thymic cortex (P=0.001), the outer cortex of the lymph nodes (P=0.012), and the splenic follicles (P=0.018) in comparison with the DEX group. There was no significant difference between the animals receiving selenium treatment and the controls in terms of lymphoid organs.
Conclusion: Selenium may improve lymphoid organ structures in an immunodeficiency rat model but has no effect on normal lymphoid tissues.