Spermidine and Brain Health in Older Adults

Spermidine and Brain Health in Older Adults

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*This is a summary of the findings from the article titled "Spermidine intake is associated with cortical thickness and hippocampal volume in older adults." Further information and details on this study are located in the link below*

 

As medicine develops and allows us to have longer lifespans, one thing that doesn’t always keep up is our health span, specifically our brain health. Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Dementia and Huntington’s disease can take a massive toll on our health and lead to a rapid decline in independence and overall life experience. However, new research has shown that the polyamine Spermidine can be an effective weapon for brain health and the fight against neurodegeneration.

Spermidine is a polyamine that is present in all living organisms and is an important piece in several different biological functions, not the least of which being the process of autophagy. Autophagy is the recycling service of our cells, clearing damaged or dying organelles and cytoplasmic material to keep the cells healthy and running efficiently. As we age, however, the natural levels of spermidine in our body begin to drop. When this drop occurs, build up within the cells can lead to miscommunication and eventually disease. The nature and severity of the disease depends on where in the body the cells are located. When the cells are in the brain, it can lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease, as well as the demyelination of axons and chronic memory loss as well.

However, new research has pointed to dietary supplementation of spermidine as a way to attenuate this drop in levels and following health decline. In the article titled “Spermidine intake is associated with cortical thickness and hippocampal volume in older adults”, scientists studied the effects of dietary ingestion of spermidine on memory performance and brain health, as well as looking at the structural improvement from the supplementation and found promising results.

Research found that spermidine supplementation led to increased hippocampal volume, an area largely associated with learning and memory. Furthermore, there was also a positive association found between spermidine intake and cortical thickness in the temporal and parietal regions, as well as brain regions thought to be high-risk areas for Alzheimer's disease. Increased spermidine levels also help maintain healthy autophagy levels in the brain which leads to improved plasticity and prevents demyelination of axons within the brain.

This study demonstrated clearly for the first time the association between dietary spermidine levels and improved cognitive function in an aged population. It confirms previous theories as to the benefits of a dietary spermidine supplement and continues to push the field of longevity into the future. It also presents the potential of dietary spermidine being used therapeutically as a treatment for cognitive diseases and proactively as a preventive measure for developing disease in the future. More research is needed to fully understand all the mechanisms that dietary spermidine supplementation can help improve, but the future is bright.

 

References

  1. Claudia Schwarz, Nora Horn, Gloria Benson, et al. "Spermidine intake is associated with cortical thickness and hippocampal volume in older adults," online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811920306182?via%3Dihub