[2021-6] Igarashi, K. et al., Amino Acids 53, 1473 (2021)
Among low molecular weight substances, polyamines (spermidine, spermine and their precursor putrescine) are present in eukaryotic cells at the mM level together with ATP and glutathione. It is expected therefore that polyamines play important roles in cell proliferation and viability. Polyamines mainly exist as a polyamine-RNA complex and regulate protein synthesis. It was found that polyamines enhance translation from inefficient mRNAs. The detailed mechanisms of polyamine stimulation of specific kinds of protein syntheses and the physiological functions of these proteins are described in this review. Spermine is metabolized into acrolein (CH2=CH-CHO) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by spermine oxidase. Although it is thought that cell damage is mainly caused by reactive oxygen species (O2–, H2O2, and •OH), it was found that acrolein is much more toxic than H2O2. Accordingly, the level of acrolein produced becomes a useful biomarker for several tissue-damage diseases like brain stroke. Thus, the mechanisms of cell toxicity caused by acrolein are described in this review.