Posted on Apr 25, 2017, 10 a.m.
Spermidine, found in foods such as cheese, mushrooms, and whole grains, is shown to prevent liver cancer and boost longevity.
A new study indicates that spermidine may minimize the risk of liver cancer and simultaneously boost lifespan. The beauty of this finding is that most people will enjoy consuming the foods that provide such benefits: aged cheese, mushrooms, whole grains, soy, corn, legumes and other foods with plenty of spermidine.
Researchers fed mice an oral supplement of spermidine. The results were quite intriguing. These mice were less inclined to incur liver fibrosis. They were also less inclined to develop hepatocellular carcinoma, the most prevalent form of liver cancer. The Texas A&M research team also found that the consumption of spermidine boosts the lifespan of mice by 25 percent. The study's findings were recently published in Cancer Research, a popular medical journal.
About the Study
The study was spearheaded by Leyuan Liu, Ph.D. She works at Texas A&M's Institute of Biosciences & Technology. Liu and her research team keyed in on spermidine, a polyamine compound with a minimum of two amino groups. It is named as such as it was separated from sperm. Spermidine is commonly found in an array of food products like those listed above.
Previous studies indicated dietary spermidine might produce health benefits. As an example, a previous study linked oral supplementation of spermidine to improved longevity and heart health in mice. A recent study tied the compound to decreased blood pressure.
Liu's research team was more concerned with whether spermidine has anti-cancer properties. The researchers provided an oral spermidine supplement to mice that had a predisposition to the development of liver fibrosis or hepatocellular carcinoma, meaning an accumulation of scar tissue in the liver that has the potential to cause liver cancer.
The spermidine supplement reduced the odds of the development of liver fibrosis or hepatocellular carcinoma in mice. Furthermore, the mice given the supplement lived longer than the mice that were not provided with it. In fact, the increase in lifespan was about 25 percent which equates to a human being living to 100 instead of 81 years-old. However, it is important to note that this boost in lifespan was only observed in mice with lifelong spermidine supplementation. Mice that were provided the supplement at a later point in life enjoyed a longer life but the extension topped out at about 10 percent.
Previous Research of Note
Liu's research team also conducted previous research that determined the lack of autophagy played a role in the development of cancer. Autophagy is the process through which cells consume their debris. The researchers determined the benefits of spermidine were reduced when the protein known as MAP1S was absent. This protein is a common trigger of autophagy. As a result, Liu's research crew believes the cancer-fighting properties of the compound are determined by the enhancement of autophagy related to MAP1S.
A Look to the Future
Additional studies must be conducted to determine if spermidine supplementation is safe for human use. It is anticipated that this supplementation will provide meaningful health benefits. Spermidine might one day be added to bottled sodas or alcohol to balance out the beverages' negative ingredients and simultaneously enhance the liver, prolong lifespan and combat hepatocellular carcinoma.
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Fei Yue, Wenjiao Li, Jing Zou, Xianhan Jiang, Guibin Xu, Hai Huang, Leyuan Liu. Spermidine prolongs lifespan and prevents liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma by activating MAP1S-mediated autophagy. Cancer Research, 2017; canres.3462.2016 DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-3462