Preventive and Therapeutic Spermidine Treatment Attenuates Acute Colitis in Mice

J Agric Food Chem. 2021 Feb 17;69(6):1864-1876. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.0c07095. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is associated with acute and chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and has emerged to be a global disease. Spermidine, a natural polyamine, plays a critical role in maintaining cellular homeostasis. Herein, we investigated the impact and mechanism of spermidine on both dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)- and 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid solution (TNBS)-induced colitis in mice. We found that spermidine exerted protective effects against acute colitis, evidenced by reduced disease activity index (DAI) and colonic inflammation, increased colonic length, and upregulated tight junction proteins in these two colitis models. Importantly, spermidine exerted significant therapeutic and preventive effects against DSS-induced colitis. Pre- and post-treatment with spermidine reduced the expression of proinflammatory cytokines, phosphorylation of (nuclear factor-κB) NF-κB and (mitogen-activated protein kinase) MAPK, and the activation of F4/80 macrophages and T cells in the colon. Furthermore, spermidine upregulated M2 macrophage markers, whereas it downregulated M1 markers in the inflamed colons. In parallel, spermidine reduced M1 pro-inflammatory markers and enhanced M2 anti-inflammatory genes in RAW264.7 cells. These results revealed that spermidine-ameliorated colitis might be through the regulation of M1/M2 macrophage polarization. In addition, spermidine treatment also alleviated LPS/TNF-α-induced inflammation in Caco-2 cells. Taken together, spermidine prevented and reversed colonic inflammation in colitis mice and might be a promising candidate for IBD intervention.

Keywords: colonic inflammation; inflammatory bowel disease; intestinal barrier; macrophage; spermidine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Colitis* / chemically induced
  • Colitis* / drug therapy
  • Colitis* / genetics
  • Colon
  • Cytokines
  • Dextran Sulfate / toxicity
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NF-kappa B
  • Spermidine*


  • Cytokines
  • NF-kappa B
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Spermidine