Implication of the polyamine system in mental disorders

Implication of the polyamine system in mental disorders


J Psychiatry Neurosci 2008;33(2):102-10

Laura M. Fiori, BSc; Gustavo Turecki, MD, PhD

McGill Group for Suicide Studies, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Montréal, Que.


The polyamine pathway has an essential role in many cellular functions and has been implicated in several pathological conditions. Accumulating evidence suggests that the polyamine system also plays a role in the etiology and pathology of mental disorders. Alterations in the expression and activity of polyamine metabolic enzymes, as well as changes in the levels of the individual polyamines, have been observed in multiple conditions, including schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety and suicidal behaviour. Additionally, these components have been found to be altered by various psychiatric treatments. Further, the polyamines and their precursors have demonstrated both antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Overall, findings to date suggest that the polyamine pathway represents an important frontier for the development of neuropharmacological treatments.


La voie des polyamines joue un rôle essentiel dans un grand nombre de fonctions cellulaires et elle a été mise en cause dans plusieurs pathologies. Des données de plus en plus nombreuses indiquent que le système des polyamines joue aussi un rôle dans l’étiologie et la pathologie des troubles mentaux. On a observé des altérations de l’expression et de l’activité des enzymes métaboliques des polyamines, ainsi que des variations de la concentration de certaines polyamines dans de multiples affections, y compris la schizophrénie, les troubles de l’humeur, l’anxiété et le comportement suicidaire. On a aussi constaté que divers traitements psychiatriques modifiaient ces composantes. De plus, les polyamines et leurs précurseurs ont montré des effets à la fois antidépresseurs et anxiolytiques. Dans l’ensemble, les constatations actuelles indiquent que la voie des polyamines représente une frontière importante pour la mise au point de traitements neuropharmacologiques.

Medical subject headings: polyamines; mental disorders; schizophrenia; depression; suicide; stress.

Competing interests: None declared.

Submitted July 17, 2007; Revised Sept. 7, 2007; Accepted Sept. 7, 2007

Contributors: Both authors designed the study. Ms. Fiori acquired and analyzed the data. Both authors wrote the article, and Dr. Turecki revised it. Both authors gave final approval for the article to be published.

Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) MOP 79253. Dr. Turecki is a Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) scholar. Ms. Fiori received a scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Correspondence to: Dr. G. Turecki, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, 6875 LaSalle Blvd., Verdun QC H4H 1R3; fax 514 762-3023;