Activation of protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 2 by spermidine exerts anti-inflammatory effects in human THP-1 monocytes and in a mouse model of acute colitis

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 9;8(9):e73703. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073703. eCollection 2013.


Background: Spermidine is a dietary polyamine that is able to activate protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 2 (PTPN2). As PTPN2 is known to be a negative regulator of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ)-induced responses, and IFN-γ stimulation of immune cells is a critical process in the immunopathology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), we wished to explore the potential of spermidine for reducing pro-inflammatory effects in vitro and in vivo.

Methods: Human THP-1 monocytes were treated with IFN-γ and/or spermidine. Protein expression and phosphorylation were analyzed by Western blot, cytokine expression by quantitative-PCR, and cytokine secretion by ELISA. Colitis was induced in mice by dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) administration. Disease severity was assessed by recording body weight, colonoscopy and histology.

Results: Spermidine increased expression and activity of PTPN2 in THP-1 monocytes and reduced IFN-γ-induced phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 1 and 3, as well as p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in a PTPN2 dependent manner. Subsequently, IFN-γ-induced expression/secretion of intracellular cell adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 mRNA, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, and interleukin (IL)-6 was reduced in spermidine-treated cells. The latter effects were absent in PTPN2-knockdown cells. In mice with DSS-induced colitis, spermidine treatment resulted in ameliorated weight loss and decreased mucosal damage indicating reduced disease severity.

Conclusions: Activation of PTPN2 by spermidine ameliorates IFN-γ-induced inflammatory responses in THP-1 cells. Furthermore, spermidine treatment significantly reduces disease severity in mice with DSS-induced colitis; hence, spermidine supplementation and subsequent PTPN2 activation may be helpful in the treatment of chronic intestinal inflammation such as IBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemokine CCL2 / genetics
  • Chemokine CCL2 / metabolism
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / metabolism
  • Colitis / prevention & control*
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / genetics
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Monocytes / pathology
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 2 / genetics
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 2 / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Spermidine / pharmacology*
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Interleukin-6
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 2
  • Spermidine