Toenail selenium and risk of type 2 diabetes: The ORDET cohort study

Marco Vinceti, Sara Grioni, Dorothea Alber, Dario Consonni, Carlotta Malagoli, Claudia Agnoli, Marcella Malavolti, Valeria Pala, Vittorio Krogh, Sabina Sieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epidemiologic studies, particularly randomized controlled trials, have shown a direct relation between dietary and environmental exposure to the metalloid selenium and risk of type 2 diabetes. We investigated the association between baseline toenail selenium levels and diabetes occurrence in a case-control study nested in ORDET, a population-based female cohort in Northern Italy. After a median follow-up of 16 years, we identified 226 cases of type 2 diabetes cases and 395 age-matched control women with available toenail samples at baseline. The multivariate odds ratios of diabetes in increasing a priori defined categories of toenail selenium exposure were 1.09 (95% confidence interval 0.61, 1.96), 0.71 (0.38, 1.34) and 1.14 (0.46, 2.80) compared with the lowest category. The results were not substantially altered when quartile distribution of toenail selenium in controls was used to define exposure categories. Spline regression analysis did not show homogeneous risk trends. Overall, we did not find an association between toenail selenium and subsequent development of diabetes. Since the diabetogenic activity of selenium is strongly supported by experimental studies and some observational investigations, our null results might be explained by the limitations of overall selenium toenail content to assess environmental exposure to selenium species of etiologic relevance in the study population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-150
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of trace elements in medicine and biology : organ of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS)
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Cohort study
  • Diabetes
  • Risk assessment
  • Selenium
  • Toenails

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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