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J Gastrointest Dig Syst. 2012 Feb 20;2(Suppl 7). pii: 001.

Polyamines and Gut Mucosal Homeostasis.

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Department of Surgery, Baltimore, Maryland 21201.
Department of Surgery, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 ; Department of Pathology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 ; Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21201.
Department of Surgery, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 ; Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21201.


The epithelium of gastrointestinal (GI) mucosa has the most rapid turnover rate of any tissue in the body and its integrity is preserved through the dynamic balance between cell migration, proliferation, growth arrest and apoptosis. To maintain tissue homeostasis of the GI mucosa, the rates of epithelial cell division and apoptosis must be highly regulated by various extracellular and intracellular factors including cellular polyamines. Natural polyamines spermidine, spermine and their precursor putrescine, are organic cations in eukaryotic cells and are implicated in the control of multiple signaling pathways and distinct cellular functions. Normal intestinal epithelial growth depends on the available supply of polyamines to the dividing cells in the crypts, and polyamines also regulate intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) apoptosis. Although the specific molecular processes controlled by polyamines remains to be fully defined, increasing evidence indicates that polyamines regulate intestinal epithelial integrity by modulating the expression of various growth-related genes. In this review, we will extrapolate the current state of scientific knowledge regarding the roles of polyamines in gut mucosal homeostasis and highlight progress in cellular and molecular mechanisms of polyamines and their potential clinical applications.


Ornithine decarboxylase; RNA-binding proteins; apoptosis; cell proliferation; microRNAs; mucosal injury; restitution


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