Chemical activation of SAT1 corrects diet-induced metabolic syndrome

Cell Death Differ. 2020 Oct;27(10):2904-2920. doi: 10.1038/s41418-020-0550-z. Epub 2020 May 6.


The pharmacological targeting of polyamine metabolism is currently under the spotlight for its potential in the prevention and treatment of several age-associated disorders. Here, we report the finding that triethylenetetramine dihydrochloride (TETA), a copper-chelator agent that can be safely administered to patients for the long-term treatment of Wilson disease, exerts therapeutic benefits in animals challenged with hypercaloric dietary regimens. TETA reduced obesity induced by high-fat diet, excessive sucrose intake, or leptin deficiency, as it reduced glucose intolerance and hepatosteatosis, but induced autophagy. Mechanistically, these effects did not involve the depletion of copper from plasma or internal organs. Rather, the TETA effects relied on the activation of an energy-consuming polyamine catabolism, secondary to the stabilization of spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase-1 (SAT1) by TETA, resulting in enhanced enzymatic activity of SAT. All the positive effects of TETA on high-fat diet-induced metabolic syndrome were lost in SAT1-deficient mice. Altogether, these results suggest novel health-promoting effects of TETA that might be taken advantage of for the prevention or treatment of obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacology*
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Trientine / analogs & derivatives*


  • Chelating Agents
  • Acetyltransferases
  • diamine N-acetyltransferase
  • Trientine