Polyamines in Parkinson's Disease: Balancing Between Neurotoxicity and Neuroprotection

Annu Rev Biochem. 2023 Jun 20:92:435-464. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-071322-021330. Epub 2023 May 4.


The polyamines putrescine, spermidine, and spermine are abundant polycations of vital importance in mammalian cells. Their cellular levels are tightly regulated by degradation and synthesis, as well as by uptake and export. Here, we discuss the delicate balance between the neuroprotective and neurotoxic effects of polyamines in the context of Parkinson's disease (PD). Polyamine levels decline with aging and are altered in patients with PD, whereas recent mechanistic studies on ATP13A2 (PARK9) demonstrated a driving role of a disturbed polyamine homeostasis in PD. Polyamines affect pathways in PD pathogenesis, such as α-synuclein aggregation, and influence PD-related processes like autophagy, heavy metal toxicity, oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and lysosomal/mitochondrial dysfunction. We formulate outstanding research questions regarding the role of polyamines in PD, their potential as PD biomarkers, and possible therapeutic strategies for PD targeting polyamine homeostasis.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease; astrocyte; endo/lysosome; mitochondria; polyamines; α-synuclein.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Neuroprotection
  • Parkinson Disease* / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease* / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease* / pathology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders*
  • Polyamines / metabolism
  • Spermidine / metabolism


  • Polyamines
  • Spermidine