Polyamine catabolism and oxidative damage

Tracy Murray Stewart, Tiffany T. Dunston, Patrick M. Woster, Robert A. Casero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Polyamines (PAs) are indispensable polycations ubiquitous to all living cells. Among their many critical functions, PAs contribute to the oxidative balance of the cell. Beginning with studies by the Tabor laboratory in bacteria and yeast, the requirement for PAs as protectors against oxygen radical–mediated damage has been well established in many organisms, including mammals. However, PAs also serve as substrates for oxidation reactions that produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) both intra- and extracellularly. As intracellular concentrations of PAs can reach millimolar concentrations, the H2O2 amounts produced through their catabolism, coupled with a reduction in protective PAs, are sufficient to cause the oxidative damage associated with many pathologies, including cancer. Thus, the maintenance of intracellular polyamine homeostasis may ultimately contribute to the maintenance of oxidative homeostasis. Again, pioneering studies by Tabor and colleagues led the way in first identifying spermine oxidase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. They also first purified the extracellular bovine serum amine oxidase and elucidated the products of its oxidation of primary amine groups of PAs when included in culture medium. These investigations formed the foundation for many polyamine-related studies and experimental procedures still performed today. This Minireview will summarize key innovative studies regarding PAs and oxidative damage, starting with those from the Tabor laboratory and including the most recent advances, with a focus on mammalian systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18736-18745
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 30 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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