Amino Acids

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 197–202 | Cite as

Polyamine biosynthesis as a target to inhibit apoptosis of non-tumoral cells

  • F. Flamigni
  • I. Stanic’
  • A. Facchini
  • S. Cetrullo
  • B. Tantini
  • R. M. Borzì
  • C. Guarnieri
  • C. M. Caldarera
Review Article


Growing evidence suggests a role for polyamines in apoptosis, although the relationship appears to be complex. α-Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a largely used ornithine decarboxylase inhibitor, is cytostatic, hardly cytotoxic and may even increase the resistance of tumour cells to some apoptotic stimuli. This may represent a problem in cancer therapy, where the killing of tumoral cells would be a desired effect, but could be an advantage in other pathological contexts related to an excess of apoptosis, such as cardiovascular diseases, stem cell transplantation, arthritis and infections. In different cellular models, polyamine depletion following treatment with polyamine biosynthesis inhibitors appears to inhibit mitochondrial and death receptor pathways of apoptosis by affecting key proteins. These studies indicate that inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis may prevent or reduce the apoptotic response triggered by a variety of stimuli in non-tumoral cells, such as cardiac cells, stem cells, chondrocytes, macrophages and intestinal epithelial cells.

Keywords: Polyamines – Apoptosis – Signal transduction – Difluoromethylornithine – Caspases – Non-tumoral cells 



apoptosis signal-regulating kinase






extracellular signal-regulated kinase


c-Jun-N-terminal kinase


ornithine decarboxylase


protein phosphatase




signal transducer and activator of transcription


tumor necrosis factor-α


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Flamigni
    • 1
  • I. Stanic’
    • 1
  • A. Facchini
    • 1
  • S. Cetrullo
    • 1
  • B. Tantini
    • 1
  • R. M. Borzì
    • 2
  • C. Guarnieri
    • 1
  • C. M. Caldarera
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry “G. Moruzzi”University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Laboratorio di Immunologia e GeneticaIstituto di Ricerca Codivilla Putti, I.O.RBolognaItaly
  3. 3.National Institute for Cardiovascular ResearchBolognaItaly

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