Date of Award

Summer 1997

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemistry & Biochemistry



Committee Director

Patricia A. Pleban

Committee Member

Laura K. Moen

Committee Member

John Donat

Committee Member

Reuben Rohn

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.C45 R45


Research studies have suggested that selenium may be important in the release of growth hormone, GH. A selenium-containing amino-acid residue, selenocysteine, has been identified as part of the active site of the three isoenzymes (Type I, II and III iodothyronine 5' -deiodinase) responsible for the synthesis of active thyroid hormone, T3, which is reported to stimulate GH secretion. The importance of zinc in growth is well- documented because of its involvement in transcription and expression of GH and its intermediary, insulin growth factor I or IGF- I. Thus, selenium and zinc levels in plasma may be altered in response to GH release such as occurs during GH evaluation testing.

Plasma and erythrocyte levels of selenium and zinc were measured in 43 short-stature children undergoing GH stimulation using clonidine, insulin-arginine and glucagon as the pharmacologic agents to provoke GH release. Children were classified as GH-deficient when they failed to respond to two of these agents. Baseline and post-administration specimens were collected and the elements assayed using Zeeman-effect atomic absorption spectroscopy. In addition, the long-term effects of the GH therapy on plasma and erythrocyte levels of these elements were investigated by collecting specimens at 2 and 3 months after initiation of therapy in five of the GH-deficient children.

We found no significant differences between baseline and post-administration levels of the elements in either GH-deficient or normal-responding children as evaluated by Student's t-test. However, we observed lowered selenium and zinc (p < 0.01) in plasma and erythrocytes from children undergoing GH therapy when we evaluated the data using analysis of variance.


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