Polyamine uptake by human colon carcinoma cell line CaCo-2

Luciano D’Agostino, S. Pignata, B. Daniele, G. D’Adamo, C. Ferraro, G. Silvestro, P. Tagliaferri, A. Contegiacomo, R. Gentile, G. Tritio, A. R. Bianco, G. Mazzacca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The intracellular concentrations of the polyamines are highly regulated and high polyamine concentrations are associated with rapidly proliferating cells. Hormones, nutrients and growth factors that stimulate the proliferation of the intestinal epithelium, increase the intracellular polyamine concentration mainly by activating ODC expression. Other cell types stimulated to proliferate satisfy their requirement for polyamines by increasing polyamine uptake. In the present study, we investigated polyamine uptake by a human colon carcinoma cell line, CaCo-2. Uptake of putrescine, spermidine and spermine by CaCo-2 cells was saturable and temperature dependent and all polyamines appear to share a common carrier. The carrier of differentiated cells had an apparently higher affinity and lower activity than the carrier of replicating cells. Culture of CaCo-2 cells on porous filters showed that polyamine accumulation occurred mainly through the basolateral membrane in replicating cells, while an increase in the rate of apical uptake was observed after differentiation. A significant increase in polyamine uptake and in ODC expression resulted from fresh medium replacement, a well-known stimulus to proliferation; no change in uptake occurred after ODC inhibition by DFMO. We conclude that CaCo-2 cells are able to increase their polyamine concentration by both enhanced synthesis and increased polyamine uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-359
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1990


  • Membrane uptake
  • Ornithine decarboxylase
  • Polyamines
  • Small intestine
  • α-Difluoromethylornithine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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