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Life Extension Magazine June 2013


Taurine in health and diseases: consistent evidence from experimental and epidemiological studies.

Taurine (T) was first noted as beneficial for stroke and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) prevention in genetic rat models, stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP). The preventive mechanisms of T were ascribed to sympathetic modulation for reducing blood pressure (BP) and anti-inflammatory action. Recent epidemiological surveys revealed the involvement of inflammatory mediators in the pathogenesis of stroke and also atherosclerosis for which T was proven to be effective experimentally. Arterio-lipidosis prone rats, a substrain of SHRSP selectively bred for higher reactive hypercholesterolemia, quickly develop not only arterial fat deposition but also fatty liver which could be attenuated by dietary T supplementation. CARDIAC (CVD and Alimentary Comparison) Study was a WHO-coordinated multi-center epidemiological survey on diets and CVD risks and mortalities in 61 populations. Twenty-four-hour urinary (24U) T was inversely related significantly with coronary heart disease mortality. Higher 24U-T excreters had significantly lower body mass index, systolic and diastolic BP, total cholesterol (T-Cho), and atherogenic index (AI: T-Cho/high density lipoprotein-cholesterol) than lower T excreters. T effects on CVD risks were intensified in individuals whose 24U-T and -magnesium (M) excretions were higher. Furthermore, higher Na excreters with higher heart rate whose BP were significantly higher than those with lower heart rate were divided into two groups by the mean of 24U-T, high and low T excreters. Since the former showed significantly lower BP than the latter, T may beneficially affect salt-sensitive BP rise. Included among the typical 61 populations, were Guiyang, China or St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada where in which the means of both 24U-T and -M were high or low, respectively. The former and the latter had low and high CVD risks, respectively. Australian Aboriginals living at the coastal area in Victoria were supposed to eat T- and M-rich bush and sea foods and be free from CVD 200 years ago, but they presently have nearly the highest CVD risks indicating that T- and/or M-containing seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, milk, etc, similar to prehistoric hunters’ and gatherers’ food should be good for CVD prevention. The preventive effects of T, good for health and longevity, first noted experimentally, were also proven epidemiologically in humans.

J Biomed Sci. 2010 Aug 24;17 Suppl 1:S6

The effect of supplemental dietary taurine on tinnitus and auditory discrimination in an animal model.

Loss of central inhibition has been hypothesized to underpin tinnitus and impact auditory acuity. Taurine, a partial agonist at inhibitory glycine and γ-amino butyric acid receptors, was added to the daily diet of rats to examine its effects on chronic tinnitus and normal auditory discrimination. Eight rats were unilaterally exposed once to a loud sound to induce tinnitus. The rats were trained and tested in an operant task shown to be sensitive to tinnitus. An equivalent unexposed control group was run in parallel. Months after exposure, 6 of the exposed rats showed significant evidence of chronic tinnitus. Two concentrations of taurine in drinking water were given over several weeks (attaining average daily doses of 67 mg/kg and 294 mg/kg). Water consumption was unaffected. Three main effects were obtained: (1) The high taurine dose significantly attenuated tinnitus, which returned to near pre-treatment levels following washout. (2) Auditory discrimination was significantly improved in unexposed control rats at both doses. (3) As indicated by lever pressing, taurine at both doses had a significant group-equivalent stimulant effect. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that taurine attenuates tinnitus and improves auditory discrimination by increasing inhibitory tone and decreasing noise in the auditory pathway.

Hear Res. 2010 Dec 1;270(1-2):71-80

The potential usefulness of taurine on diabetes mellitus and its complications.

Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is a free amino acid found ubiquitously in millimolar concentrations in all mammalian tissues. Taurine exerts a variety of biological actions, including antioxidation, modulation of ion movement, osmoregulation, modulation of neurotransmitters, and conjugation of bile acids, which may maintain physiological homeostasis. Recently, data is accumulating that show the effectiveness of taurine against diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance and its complications, including retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, atherosclerosis and cardiomyopathy, independent of hypoglycemic effect in several animal models. The useful effects appear due to the multiple actions of taurine on cellular functions. This review summarizes the beneficial effects of taurine supplementation on diabetes mellitus and the molecular mechanisms underlying its effectiveness.

Amino Acids.2012 May;42(5):1529-39

Antiobesity and hypolipidemic effects of lotus leaf hot water extract with taurine supplementation in rats fed a high fat diet.

BACKGROUND: Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) leaf has been used to treat obesity. The purpose of this study was to investigate the antiobesity and hypolipidemic effects of lotus leaf hot water extract with taurine supplementation in high fat diet-induced obese rats. METHODS: Four week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups with 8 rats in each group for a period of 6 weeks (normal diet, N group; high fat diet, HF group; high fat diet + lotus leaf hot water extract, HFL group; high fat diet + lotus leaf hot water extract + taurine, HFLT group). Lotus leaf hot water extract was orally administrated to HFL and HFLT groups and the same amount of distilled water was orally administered (400 mg/kg/day) to N and HF groups. Taurine was supplemented by dissolving in feed water (3% w/v). RESULTS: The body weight gain and relative weights of epididymal and retroperitoneal adipose tissues were significantly lower in N, HFL and HFLT groups compared to HF group. HFL and HFLT groups showed lower concentrations of total cholesterol, triglyceride and low density lipoprotein cholesterol in serum. HFLT group showed higher the ratio of high density lipoprotein cholesterol/total cholesterol compared to HFL group. HFLT group showed better blood lipid profiles compared to HFL group. CONCLUSIONS: Lotus leaf hot water extract with taurine supplementation showed antiobesity and hypolipidemic effects in high fat diet-induced obese rats, which was more effective than lotus leaf hot water extract alone.

J Biomed Sci. 2010 Aug 24;17 Suppl 1:S42

Taurine supplementation prevents morpho-physiological alterations in high-fat diet mice pancreatic β-cells.

Taurine (Tau) is involved in beta (β)-cell function and insulin action regulation. Here, we verified the possible preventive effect of Tau in high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity and glucose intolerance and in the disruption of pancreatic β-cell morpho-physiology. Weaning Swiss mice were distributed into four groups: mice fed on HFD diet (36 % of saturated fat, HFD group); HTAU, mice fed on HFD diet and supplemented with 5 % Tau; control (CTL); and CTAU. After 19 weeks of diet and Tau treatments, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and islet morpho-physiology were evaluated. HFD mice presented higher body weight and fat depots, and were hyperglycemic, hyperinsulinemic, glucose intolerant and insulin resistant. Their pancreatic islets secreted high levels of insulin in the presence of increasing glucose concentrations and 30 mM K(+). Tau supplementation improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity with a higher ratio of Akt phosphorylated (pAkt) related to Akt total protein content (pAkt/Akt) following insulin administration in the liver without altering body weight and fat deposition in HTAU mice. Isolated islets from HTAU mice released insulin similarly to CTL islets. HFD intake induced islet hypertrophy, increased β-cell/islet area and islet and β-cell mass content in the pancreas. Tau prevented islet and β-cell/islet area, and islet and β-cell mass alterations induced by HFD. The total insulin content in HFD islets was higher than that of CTL islets, and was not altered in HTAU islets. In conclusion, for the first time, we showed that Tau enhances liver Akt activation and prevents β-cell compensatory morpho-functional adaptations induced by HFD.

Amino Acids.2012 Oct;43(4):1791-801

Experimental evidence for therapeutic potential of taurine in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The incidence of obesity is now at epidemic proportions and has resulted in the emergence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as a common metabolic disorder that can lead to liver injury and cirrhosis. Excess sucrose and long-chain saturated fatty acids in the diet may play a role in the development and progression of NAFLD. One factor linking sucrose and saturated fatty acids to liver damage is dysfunction of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Although there is currently no proven, effective therapy for NAFLD, the amino sulfonic acid taurine is protective against various metabolic disturbances, including alcohol-induced liver damage. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the therapeutic potential of taurine to serve as a preventative treatment for diet-induced NAFLD. We report that taurine significantly mitigated palmitate-mediated caspase-3 activity, cell death, ER stress, and oxidative stress in H4IIE liver cells and primary hepatocytes. In rats fed a high-sucrose diet, dietary taurine supplementation significantly reduced hepatic lipid accumulation, liver injury, inflammation, plasma triglycerides, and insulin levels. The high-sucrose diet resulted in an induction of multiple components of the unfolded protein response in the liver consistent with ER stress, which was ameliorated by taurine supplementation. Treatment of mice with the ER stress-inducing agent tunicamycin resulted in liver injury, unfolded protein response induction, and hepatic lipid accumulation that was significantly ameliorated by dietary supplementation with taurine. Our results indicate that dietary supplementation with taurine offers significant potential as a preventative treatment for NAFLD.

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Dec;301(6):R1710-22

Taurine ameliorates hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia by reducing insulin resistance and leptin level in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima fatty (OLETF) rats with long-term diabetes.

This study aimed to determine whether taurine supplementation improves metabolic disturbances and diabetic complications in an animal model for type 2 diabetes. We investigated whether taurine has therapeutic effects on glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism, and diabetic complications in Otsuka Long- Evans Tokushima fatty (OLETF) rats with long-term duration of diabetes. Fourteen 50-week-old OLETF rats with chronic diabetes were fed a diet supplemented with taurine (2%) or a non-supplemented control diet for 12 weeks. Taurine reduced blood glucose levels over 12 weeks, and improved OGTT outcomes at 6 weeks after taurine supplementation, in OLETF rats. Taurine significantly reduced insulin resistance but did not improve β-cell function or islet mass. After 12 weeks, taurine significantly decreased serum levels of lipids such as triglyceride, cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Taurine significantly reduced serum leptin, but not adiponectin levels. However, taurine had no therapeutic effect on damaged tissues. Taurine ameliorated hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia, at least in part, by improving insulin sensitivity and leptin modulation in OLETF rats with long-term diabetes. Additional study is needed to investigate whether taurine has the same beneficial effects in human diabetic patients.

Exp Mol Med. 2012 Nov 30;44(11):665-73

Taurine exerts hypoglycemic effect in alloxan-induced diabetic rats, improves insulin-mediated glucose transport signaling pathway in heart and ameliorates cardiac oxidative stress and apoptosis.

Hyperlipidemia, inflammation and altered antioxidant profiles are the usual complications in diabetes mellitus. In the present study, we investigated the therapeutic potential of taurine in diabetes associated cardiac complications using a rat model. Rats were made diabetic by alloxan (ALX) (single i.p. dose of 120mg/kg body weight) and left untreated or treated with taurine (1% w/v, orally, in water) for three weeks either from the day of ALX exposure or after the onset of diabetes. Animals were euthanized after three weeks. ALX-induced diabetes decreased body weight, increased glucose level, decreased insulin content, enhanced the levels of cardiac damage markers and altered lipid profile in the plasma. Moreover, it increased oxidative stress (decreased antioxidant enzyme activities and GSH/GSSG ratio, increased xanthine oxidase enzyme activity, lipid peroxidation, protein carbonylation and ROS generation) and enhanced the proinflammatory cytokines levels, activity of myeloperoxidase and nuclear translocation of NFκB in the cardiac tissue of the experimental animals. Taurine treatment could, however, result to a decrease in the elevated blood glucose and proinflammatory cytokine levels, diabetes-evoked oxidative stress, lipid profiles and NFκB translocation. In addition, taurine increased GLUT 4 translocation to the cardiac membrane by enhanced phosphorylation of IR and IRS1 at tyrosine and Akt at serine residue in the heart. Results also suggest that taurine could protect cardiac tissue from ALX induced apoptosis via the regulation of Bcl2 family and caspase 9/3 proteins. Taken together, taurine supplementation in regular diet could play a beneficial role in regulating diabetes and its associated complications in the heart.

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2012 Jan 15;258(2):296-308

Taurine reduces nitrosative stress and nitric oxide synthase expression in high glucose-exposed human Schwann cells.

The role of taurine in regulating glucose-induced nitrosative stress has been examined in human Schwann cells, a model for understanding the pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy. Exposure to high glucose increased nitrated proteins (1.56 fold p<0.05), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and neuronal NOS (nNOS) mRNA expression (1.55 fold and 2.2 fold respectively, p<0.05 both), phospho-p38 MAPK (1.32 fold, p<0.05) abundance and decreased Schwann cell growth (11±2%, p<0.05). Taurine supplementation prevented high-glucose induced iNOS and nNOS mRNA upregulation, reduced nitrated proteins and phospho-p38 MAPK (56±11% and 45±18% (p<0.05 both) respectively) and restored Schwann cell growth to control levels. High glucose and taurine treatment alone reduced phospho-p42/44 MAPK and phospho-AKT to below detectable levels. Treatment of human Schwann cells with donors of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite reduced taurine transporter (TauT) expression (by 35±5% and 29±7% respectively p<0.05 both) as well as the maximum velocity of taurine uptake (TauT Vmax). NOS inhibition prevented glucose-mediated TauT mRNA downregulation, and restored TauT Vmax. These data demonstrate an important role for taurine in the prevention of nitrosative stress in human Schwann cells, which may have important implications for the development and treatment of diabetic neuropathy.

Exp Neurol. 2012 Jan;233(1):154-62

Role of taurine in the vasculature: an overview of experimental and human studies.

Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid-like endogenous compound found in substantial amounts in mammalian tissues. It exerts a diverse array of biological effects, including cardiovascular regulation, antioxidation, modulation of ion transport, membrane stabilization, osmoregulation, modulation of neurotransmission, bile acid conjugation, hypolipidemia, antiplatelet activity and modulation of fetal development. This brief review summarizes the role of taurine in the vasculature and modulation of blood pressure, based on experimental and human studies. Oral supplementation of taurine induces antihypertensive effects in various animal models of hypertension. These effects of taurine have been shown to be both centrally and peripherally mediated. Consistent with this, taurine produces endothelium-dependent and independent relaxant effects in isolated vascular tissue preparations. Oral administration of taurine also ameliorates impairment of vascular reactivity, intimal thickening, arteriosclerosis, endothelial apoptosis, oxidative stress and inflammation, associated primarily with diabetes and, to a lesser extent with obesity, hypertension and nicotine-induced vascular adverse events. In rat aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), taurine acts as an antiproliferative and antioxidant agent. In endothelial cells, taurine inhibits apoptosis, inflammation, oxidative stress and cell death while increasing NO generation. Oral taurine in hypertensive human patients alleviates the symptoms of hypertension and also reverses arterial stiffness and brachial artery reactivity in type 1 diabetic patients. However, despite these favorable findings, there is a need to further establish certain aspects of the reported results and also consider addressing unresolved related issues. In addition, the molecular mechanism (s) involved in the vascular effects of taurine is largely unknown and requires further investigations. Elucidation of the mechanisms through which taurine affects the vasculature could facilitate the development of therapeutic and/or diet-based strategies to reduce the burdens of vascular diseases.

Am J Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;1(3):293-311