Spermidine in Health and Disease

*This is a summary of the findings from the article titled "Spermidine in Health and Disease." Further information and details on this study are located in the link below*

As we age, our body’s ability to keep up with the demands of everyday life starts to decline, leading to stress, disease and deterioration. Diseases that typically come along with aging include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. In the research being conducted on how to combat these age-related pathologies and increase one’s longevity, fasting regimens and dietary adaptations like caloric restriction have surged to the front as being effective ways to increase healthspan and lifespan. Caloric restriction has many benefits, though it’s not a practice everyone may care to adhere to. Caloric restriction mimetics (CRMs) are an alternative, exerting the same beneficial effects on one's health without the need to change lifestyle and diet. One of the most promising CRMs being researched is the polyamine, Spermidine. Spermidine has been shown to promote longevity with anti-inflammatory properties, enhanced mitochondrial function and upregulated levels of autophagy. Increased Spermidine levels can protect against cancer, metabolic disease, heart disease and neurodegeneration.

Spermidine is a naturally occurring polyamine that is abundantly present in all living organisms. As humans, we are born with a certain level of spermidine in our body that helps keep our cells functioning efficiently. They are also essential for cell growth and tissue regeneration. As we age, this level begins to drop, causing a drop in efficiency of our cells and other age-associated effects. To increase our levels of spermidine, we can either take a dietary supplement that contains high levels of the polyamines, or we can look to change our diet to one rich in foods containing spermidine. The average daily intake of spermidine can fall anywhere between 7 and 25 mg of the polyamine, with the mediterranean diet containing the most food-bound spermidine. This could be a reason why the Mediterranean diet is associated with longevity and extreme health and lifespan. Once the polyamine is ingested, it is quickly absorbed in the intestines with minimal degradation and distributed throughout the body to different tissues through the blood.

The main mechanism through which spermidine exerts its health benefits is the process of autophagy. Autophagy is a naturally occurring process in our bodies that helps maintain cellular homeostasis and clear out any harmful or damaged organelles and recycle any other unnecessary cytoplasmic material that would otherwise build up in the cell. When autophagy slows, these materials build up in the cell faster than they can be cleared and this is what often leads to the diseases and decreased efficiency of our cells as we age.

Due to its connection to the process of autophagy, it can be said with confidence that spermidine, when added to the diet, exhibits a neuroprotective and cardioprotective effect on the body. Furthermore, it can help reduce chronic inflammation that is triggered by cellular material build-up, preserve and improve mitochondrial function and trigger anti-cancer immunosurveillance cells.

References:

  1. Frank Madeo, Tobias Eisenberg, Federico Pietrocola, et al. "Spermidine in Health and Disease," online: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aan2788