12 January - 20 June 2016

Compound in aged cheese found to increase lifespan in mice

A study which has been reported by the press as “eating cheese will make you live longer”, published in Nature Medicine, has investigated the natural polyamine spermidine on lifespan and cardiovascular health using mice.

A study which has been reported by the press as “eating cheese will make you live longer”, published in Nature Medicine, has investigated the natural polyamine spermidine on lifespan and cardiovascular health using mice. 

Spermidine is found in numerous foods including mushrooms, whole grains, aged cheese and was first discovered in semen hence the name.  Previous studies by the same team of researchers, using flies and worms, found that the compound extended lifespan and health span and delayed associated memory impairment in flies.

Eisenberg et al. carried out numerous experiments using mice of different ages, as well as mice who had consumed a high salt diet.  Spermidine was given to the mice via their drinking water (3mM in all experiments apart from the supplementation for lifespan estimation (0.3mM)), whilst the control mice received plain water. The team found that spermidine-fed mice had increased circulating spermidine levels, which they state confirms its systemic bioavailability. 

The researchers found that spermidine-fed mice, even when given the supplement at middle age, lived longer than those who had not received it. When administered in later life (pre-aged mice – 18 months) spermidine feeding was found to significantly prolong median lifespan by approximately 10%. 

On closer investigation the researchers report that spermidine supplementation delayed cardiac aging and function, and blood pressure. They also found that the mice fed a high-salt diet, which caused high blood pressure, had lower pressure readings when given spermidine, as well as increased titin phosphorylation which prevented cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle), caused by high blood pressure amongst others, “thus delaying the progression to heart failure.”

Previous studies have indicated that spermidine extends lifespan by inducing autophagy in heart cells.  Autophagy is defined by Wikipedia as a natural, regulated, destructive mechanism of the cell that disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components. To investigate whether this may also be true for mice, Eisenberg et al. used mice that had a genetic defect that prevented autophagy from occurring.  They found that spermidine, did not cause them to live longer or to have improved cardiovascular health, suggesting that autophagy may, indeed, be involved in the process.

Eisenberg et al. also evaluated the association of dietary spermidine intake with cardiovascular disease including heart failure and blood pressure in 829 human participants.  Dietary intake of spermidine was assessed using food frequency questionnaire.  The researchers found that dietary intake of spermidine was inversely associated with risk of both fatal heart failure (approximately 40% reduction in those who consumed a high intake of spermidine), and clinically overt heart failure.  It was also inversely related to the risk of other cardiovascular disease. 

In conclusion, Eisenbery et al. reiterate their findings “in summary spermidine intake reduces cardiovascular pathologies, including hypertension and cardiac dysfunction that are associated with heart failure.”  They note that their findings “pave the way for prospective clinical trials to evaluate the potential cardiovascular and other health-promoting effects of spermidine enriched diets.”

share this article
RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry