Polyamines: metabolism and implications in human diseases

Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr;24(2):184-97. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2004.11.001.


Classically, polyamines is a family of molecules (i.e. putrescine, spermine, spermidine) derived from ornithine according to a decarboxylation/condensative process. More recently, it has been demonstrated that arginine can be metabolised according to the same pathway leading to agmatine formation. Polyamines are essential for the growth, the maintenance and the function of normal cells. The complexity of their metabolism and the fact that polyamines homeostasis is tightly regulated support the idea that polyamines are essential to cell survival. Multiple abnormalities in the control of polyamines metabolism might be implicated in several pathological processes. This paper summarises the knowledge about polyamines metabolism and point out the importance of these molecules as a target for the development of therapeutic tools and nutritional strategy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Biogenic Polyamines / metabolism
  • Biogenic Polyamines / physiology*
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Ornithine / metabolism
  • Polyamines / metabolism*


  • Biogenic Polyamines
  • Polyamines
  • Ornithine