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News Article

Spermidine could protect the liver

Animals fed spermidine suffered less liver damage and had longer lives

Spermidine supplements can help prevent liver diseases in animal models find researchers at Texas A&M University in partnership with Guangzhou and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Universities. Spermidine may promote cell destruction processes that help prevent the accumulation of damaged cells that can turn cancerous. Spermidine also prolonged the lifespan of the animals by around 25%.

Liver fibrosis is the first stage of liver damage. Damage by alcohol, toxins, fatty liver disease, viral and parasitic infections creates scar tissue that cannot carry out the liver’s functions. Cirrhosis is the next stage of damage when patients begin to exhibit symptoms, the scarring is extensive and the liver structure is altered. In 2010 cirrhosis accounted for over a million deaths globally.(

Mushrooms, aged cheese, soyabeans, legumes, maize and wholegrains are all good sources of spermidine. Previous research has linked spermidine to other age-related effects such as improvements in locomotor activity and lipid metabolism and prevention of bone loss.

The researchers gave mice spermidine in their food. Mice that received the supplement from weaning onwards had 25% longer lifespans. Mice that started receiving it later increased their longevity by 10%. The team also noted fewer lesions in the livers of treated mice and a lower intensity of fibrosis.

Spermidine appears to enhance a cell destruction process called autophagy. When this process goes wrong, damaged cells can multiply and develop into cancers. According to the researchers spermidine appeared to work through a protein called microtubule-associated protein MAP1S. It seems to increase the stability of MAP1S.

These results are very preliminary, say the authors, as they would need verification in humans. There are hurdles that need to be overcome such as demonstrating that spermidine can be made into supplements that are safe.

Spermidine prolongs lifespan and prevents liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma by activating MAP1S-mediated autophagy. Fei Yue, Wenjiao Li, Jing Zou, Xianhan Jiang, Guibin Xu, Hai Huang and Leyuan Liu. Cancer Research 2017.

DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-3462

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • I. Hoskins
  • Date
  • 25 April 2017
  • Subject(s)
  • Nutrition physiology