*This is a summary of the findings from the article titled "New Insights into the Roles and Mechanisms of Spermidine in Aging and Age-Related Diseases." Further information and details on this study are located in the link below*
Spermidine is a polyamine that occurs naturally within every living cell. It is responsible for a number of key biological functions within our cells that keep them running efficiently and prevent the onset of disease. As we age, however, our spermidine levels begin to drop which can lead to a compounding effect of diseases, disorders and loss of physiological functions. Many of the diseases we associate with advanced aging can also be linked to depleted levels of spermidine. These include cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic diseases and immune disease. Spermidine levels affect each of these diseases differently. Below we will describe the disease, what it does to aging bodies and how spermidine supplementation can positively affect it.
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Cardiovascular Disease is one of the main causes of disability and death in the aging population. Age is also one of the main risk factors for developing CVD, so if left unchecked it can become a dangerous cycle. Healthy levels of spermidine help prevent the development of CVD by increasing ventricular elasticity, diastole function and maintaining myocardial mitochondrial function. Specific CVDs that are greatly influenced by spermidine levels include Coronary Artery disease, Hypertension and Heart Failure.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery Disease is the leading cause of mortality in the elderly population and is caused by the development of atherosclerotic lesions in the coronary arteries. These lesions then lead to a narrowing of the arteries and ultimately poor circulation, blood flow and increased risk of heart failure. There is an inverse parallel relationship between spermidine levels and atherosclerosis, as spermidine reduces AS lesions through the process of autophagy.
Hypertension is caused by vascular remodeling and the dysfunction of endothelial cells that then lead to vascular resistance. An increase in dietary spermidine greatly reduces high blood pressure by positively affecting the body’s natural regulatory process.
Heart Failure is a common clinical disease seen within aging populations. The loss of effective cardiac muscle and cardiomyocytes leads to a decrease in heart function and eventual failure. The mitochondria within the heart are also extremely important in maintaining heart health. The healthy induction of autophagy helps prevent the progression of heart failure by clearing out dysfunctioning mitochondria, cardiomyocytes and other detritus that may have built up within the cells of the heart. These autophagy levels can be maintained as we age by a regular dietary spermidine supplement.
Along with CVD, neurodegenerative diseases are common within the elderly population. They can be described by the functional loss of neuron function and capability. These diseases include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other motor neuron diseases.
Alzheimer's is the progressive loss of cognitive function and an increase in behavioral impairments. This can include memory loss, personality and behavioral changes, agnosia, aphasia as well as other changes. The decline in function associated with age in Alzheimer's can be attributed to a decrease in autophagy within the brain. When supplemented, spermidine can reduce age-related dementia by maintaining autophagy levels and proper mitochondrial function which promotes neuronal energy and reduces cell death and inflammation.
Parkinson's disease is also a common age-related disease that is characterized by tremors and the loss of fine motor control. It is caused by the death of dopamine dependent neurons, but spermidine can help to combat this by preventing early and unnecessary cell death in dopamine dependent neurons and maintaining mitochondrial function. Additionally, spermidine exhibits other positive effects against Parkinson’s Disease by reducing inflammation and acting as an antioxidant as well.
Metabolic diseases are caused by disturbances within our bodies systems from the breakdown and usage of the substances we ingest for structural integrity. These processes can slow with age and lead to Type 2 Diabetes and obesity.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is the result of hyperglycemia due to insulin resistance. While diet and genetics play large roles in the development of Type 2 Diabetes, age is also a risk factor. However, spermidine supplementation has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and help return the body to a “glucose homeostasis”.
Obesity can be caused by many factors, including hormone fluctuation and inflammation, and increases the risk of death from other diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and heart failure. Despite this, spermidine was shown to reduce the collection of fat tissue by regulating lipid metabolism, thermogenesis and inflammatory responses. Furthermore, the supplementation of spermidine resulted in the induction of autophagy in white adipose tissue.
Immune diseases can result from an imbalance in our bodies regulatory systems, which leads to pathological changes and functional impairments. During this research it was established that autophagy is an invaluable facet to our body’s immune response by fighting off viruses, bacteria and parasites.
these diseases can range anywhere from an overactive inflammatory response to the functional loss of muscle tissue from disuse and age. Some examples include osteoporosis, sarcopenia and osteoarthritis. Spermidine helps to fight these by enhancing bone strength, regulating skeletal muscle changes and the clearance of arthritic cartilage as well as exhibiting an anti-inflammatory response as well.