Reduction of cellular polyamine pools results in inhibition of cell proliferation and sometimes in induction of cell death. Reduction of cellular polyamine pools can be achieved by several strategies involving all the mechanisms of polyamine homoeostasis, i.e. biosynthesis, catabolism and transport across the cell membrane. In the present paper, we concentrate on results achieved using the polyamine analogue DENSPM (N1,N11-diethylnorspermine) on different cell lines. We discuss polyamine levels in DENSPM-treated cells in relation to effects on cell cycle kinetics and induction of apoptosis. To really understand the role of polyamines in cell cycle regulation and apoptosis, we believe it is now time to go through the vast polyamine literature in a meta-analysis-based manner. This short review does not claim to be such a study, but it is our hope to stimulate such studies in the polyamine field. Such work is especially important from the viewpoint of introducing drugs that affect polyamine homoeostasis in the treatment of various diseases such as cancer.

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