Putrescine could be very useful to combat one of the most common conditions affecting the cardiovascular system, namely atherosclerosis. Putrescine is that compound whose unmistakable smell is one of the most “bad” present in nature. We are talking about the smell emanating from rotting meat.
According to a new study conducted by researchers at the Irving Medical Center at Columbia University, it is possible to use this substance for the benefit of humans. The researchers assumed that the removal of dead cells, a process that is called “efferocytosis” and which is one of the main functions of the body, is usually compromised when the condition of atherosclerosis exists. This compromise then leads to the accumulation of plaques and aggravation of the condition itself.
By analyzing human macrophages and dying cells in the laboratory, researchers discovered the role of putrescine. While macrophages extract arginine and additional amino acids from the dead cells they assimilate, they also convert arginine into putrescine. Arginine then activates the Rac1 protein that signals macrophages to “eat” dead cells.
Researchers then carried out experiments on mice with atherosclerosis and found that the more severe mice had low stocks of putrescine because they lacked the key enzyme (arginase 1) to produce putrescine itself. By making rodents drink water with putrescine, the macrophages resumed working and the accumulation of plaques decreased.
These results open up new avenues for the possible use of putrescine even in human atherosclerotic patients or in other conditions with cranial inflammation, including Alzheimer’s disease. The study is available on Cell Metabolism.
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