Spermidine, a polyamine which was first found and isolated in semen, works on a cellular level to promote autophagy– a mechanism that allows for cell regeneration and renewal.
In this article:
- Spermidine Function in Autophagy and Cell Renewal
- Benefits in Aging and Diseases
Spermidine in Cell Renewal and Prolonged Lifespan
Spermidine Function in Autophagy and Cell Renewal
Spermidine is a polyamine that carries a positive charge that interacts with negatively charged molecules such as RNA, DNA, and proteins. It synchronizes a myriad of biological processes, thus maintaining membrane integrity and controlling volume and intracellular pH. Polyamines play significant roles in cell metabolism, cell growth, proliferation, and survival. The polyamine levels in organisms vary per organism and decline throughout aging.
Spermidine counteracts aging and promotes longevity by inducing autophagy to facilitate the rejuvenation of cell constituents. It is the body’s way of replacing old and damaged cells to regenerate newer and healthier cells.
Autophagy is a regulated cell mechanism that eliminates dysfunctional cell components and allows the regeneration and recycling of cellular components. For this reason, autophagy has an expansive anti-aging potential to the point that most, if not all, behavioral, pharmacological, nutritional, or genetic manipulations that extend longevity require autophagy to be efficient.
Benefits in Aging and Diseases
Spermidine can be found in all living organisms and is vital in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. It is involved in multiple cellular processes such as gene transcription, translation, maintenance of genomic DNA stability, cell proliferation, and cell survival. Homeostatic imbalance, which causes cellular malfunction, is believed to be an underlying factor responsible for most diseases.
Homeostasis and senescence play a crucial role in diseases, aging, and death. Aging and diseases are a result of homeostatic imbalance. Senescent cells accumulate with age and contribute to the normal aging process as well as age-related disorders. This instability within the internal functions increases the risk of illness and physical changes associated with aging.
Dietary sources of spermidine include legumes, mushrooms, soy products, lentils, aged cheese, and supplements. Consuming these may lead to the following health benefits:
According to a study conducted among 829 participants aged 45-84 years old, increased intake of spermidine through dietary sources such as supplementations and culture media was linked to higher survival rates among humans. This is supported by research showing that spermidine may extend the lifespan of organisms such as mice, flies, yeast, and nematodes.
Prevents Certain Types of Cancers
In addition to increasing lifespan, spermidine may also prevent certain types of cancer by enhancing MAP1S-activated autophagy.
Research conducted in mice has shown that spermidine supplementation decreases liver fibrosis and cancer risk, even in subjects exposed to chemicals inducing liver fibrosis. Human observational studies also link the intake of dietary spermidine with decreased risk of colon cancer.
Protection from Cardiovascular Diseases
Spermidine from food sources has been shown to bring out cardioprotective effects through autophagy, according to studies in rats, mice, and humans demonstrating reduced hypertension and arterial aging. Similarly, increased spermidine intake is associated with reduced blood pressure and lower risk of cardiovascular disease, leading to lower mortality in humans.
Spermidine has a neuroprotective effect against neuron damages caused by inflammation, oxidative stress, and ischemia. This assists in the prevention of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease.
Calorie restriction and fasting have similarly shown to stimulate autophagy that could lead to longevity. In research about the root causes of aging and age-related diseases, calorie restriction has been shown to extend the lifespan of organisms such as primates and roundworms to 30%-50% as long as malnutrition does not occur.
Spermidine is a polyamine found in the cells that play a significant role in cell renewal, diseases, and aging. Consuming dietary food and supplements high in spermidine may provide several benefits, including increased survival. With calorie restriction and fasting, this polyamine consumption could be an effective mechanism to promote a longer lifespan.
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