Selenium and Zinc Levels in Volatile Substance Abusers

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Plasma and erythrocyte levels of selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn) have not been investigated in volatile (inhalant) substance abusers previously, although changes in the activities of antioxidant enzymes resulting from oxidative damage caused by various constituents of volatile substances have been shown in a few animal and human studies. Concentrations of these two elements in erythrocytes and plasma of 37 adolescents withinhalant abuse were measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry and compared with those of 37 age-matched healthy controls. Erythrocyte and plasma levels of Se and plasma level of Zn were significantly lower in the study group when compared to the control group. Chronic inhalation ofvolatile substances can decrease the plasma levels of Se and Zn and, thus, may lead to a decrease in the activity of antioxidant enzyme systems in adolescent abusers. The role of Se and Zn supplementation in children with inhalant abuse remains to be determined considering the reduced antioxidant activity resulting from deficiency of these trace elements.

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