Polyamines and colon cancer

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2001 Sep;13(9):1033-9. doi: 10.1097/00042737-200109000-00006.


Colorectal cancer is a major health problem in the western world and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Diet makes a significant contribution to the disease, with high fat, low fibre diets correlating positively with a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Intracellular polyamine concentrations and ornithine decarboxylase activity are both increased in colorectal cancer tissue and in premalignant polyps. Measurement of the polyamine content of serum and urine of individuals has been proposed as a diagnostic marker of malignancy but a number of false positives make this idea untenable. There may, however, still be a role for the measurement of urinary polyamine content as a means of monitoring the efficacy of therapy. Inhibition of polyamine metabolism by polyamine analogues or by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be useful in the chemotherapy and/or chemoprevention of colorectal cancer. Preliminary results suggest that a low polyamine diet might be helpful as part of a health care plan for cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polyamines / analysis
  • Polyamines / metabolism*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Polyamines