Molecular basis of the 'anti-aging' effect of spermidine and other natural polyamines - a mini-review

Gerontology. 2014;60(4):319-26. doi: 10.1159/000356748. Epub 2014 Jan 28.


Background: Spermidine, a naturally occurring polyamine, has recently emerged as exhibiting anti-aging properties. Its supplementation increases lifespan and resistance to stress, and decreases the occurrence of age-related pathology and loss of locomotor ability. Its mechanisms of action are just beginning to be understood.

Objectives: An up-to-date overview of the so far identified mechanisms of action of spermidine and other polyamines on aging is presented.

Methods: Studies of aging and of the molecular effects of polyamines in general and spermidine in particular are used to synthesize our knowledge on what molecular mechanisms spermidine and other polyamines trigger to positively affect aging.

Results: Autophagy is the main mechanism of action of spermidine at the molecular level. However, recent research shows that spermidine can act via other mechanisms, namely inflammation reduction, lipid metabolism and regulation of cell growth, proliferation and death. It is suggested that the main pathway used by spermidine to trigger its effects is the MAPK pathway.

Conclusions: Given that polyamines can interact with many molecules, it is not surprising that they affect aging via several mechanisms. Many of these mechanisms discovered so far have already been linked with aging and by acting on all of these mechanisms, polyamines may be strong regulators of aging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / pathology
  • Animals
  • Autophagy
  • Biogenic Polyamines / metabolism*
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Spermidine / metabolism*
  • Spermidine / pharmacology


  • Biogenic Polyamines
  • Spermidine