What is Taurine

Chemical Name: 2-aminoethanesulphonic acid

Molecular Weight: 125.15

Structrual Formula: H2N-CH-CH2-SO3H

Nitrogen Content: 11.19%


  • It is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid because it is necessary to be supplied in the diet of infants for normal retinal and brain development
  • Functions with glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid as a neuroinhibitory transmitter
  • Taurine does not have a genetic codon and is not incorporated into proteins and enzymes, it does play an important role in bile acid metabolism
  • Taurine is incorporated into one of the most abundant bile acids, chenodeoxychloic acid where it serves to emulsify dietary lipids in the intestine, promoting digestion
  • It is an end product of L-cysteine metabolism and the principal free intracellular amino acid in many tissues of humans and other animal species.
  • Taurine is present in high amounts in the brain, retina, myocardium, skeletal and smooth muscle, platelets and neutrophils.
  • Taurine is a derivative of L-Methionine >>> L-Cysteine >>> Taurine
  • Taurine synthesis occurs in the liver and the brain
  • Concentrates of Taurine have also been found in extremely high concentrates in the brain, intestines and skeletal muscle. Most amino acids have a L- or D- configuration, which means the molecule when put into a solution will rotate light either to the left (Levo=L) or the right (Dextro = D). Taurine does not polarize light and consequently does not have an L- or D- configuration.

Taurine and Brain

  • It has been established that taurine concentration is extraordinarily high in the developing brain, and falls of sharply thereafter
  • This occurs at a time when the presumed synthetic pathway, via cysteine sulfinate decarboxylase, has little measurable activity, suggesting that a dietary source of taurine is essential
  • Taurine as a treatment for Epilepsy (6, 7,8)

Taurine and Heart

  • Congestive Heart Failure (1)
  • Direct effect on the levels of potassium which pass into and out of the heart muscle cells (2) (3)
  • Maintaining normal electrical and mechanical activity of the heart muscle (4)(5)
  • Essential Hypertension (11)

Taurine and Growth

  • High concentrations of taurine are present in breast milk, which reflects the important need for taurine by the growing animal
  • Research of taurine was greatly stimulated by the finding that it is an essential nutrient for cats
  • Taurine deficiency in cats can result in a variety of clinical abnormalities, including central retinal degeneration, dilated cardiomyopathy and platelet function abnormalities
  • Shortly after the discovery that dietary taurine deficiency leads to retinal degeneration in cats
  • It was observed that infants who were fed formulas lacking taurine had lower plasma levels of this amino acid than did infants fed human milk
  • Children receiving total parenteral nutrition not containing taurine had abnormal electroretinograms, as well as low plasma taurine levels
  • Taurine has been added to most human infant formulas since the mid-1980s

Taurine and Gallstones

  • Protects against the development of gallstones (9,10)

Taurine and Food

  • Dietary taurine mainly comes from animal food
  • Taurine is present in very low levels in plant foods
  • Taurine is found in seaweeds

Taurine and Metabolism

  • Taurine is produced in the body from L-cysteine. The first reaction in the pathway is the formation of cysteine sulfinic acid
  • Cysteine sulfinic acid (CSA) is converted to hypotaurine via the enzyme CSA-decarboxylase, and taurine is formed from hypotaurine

Function of Taurine

  • The most understood role of taurine in humans is its involvement in the formation of taurine bile acid conjugates in the liver, which are essential for micelle formation and fat absorption
  • Taurine is involved in the pre-and post-natal development of the central nervous system and visual system, although the details of its involvement in these processes are unclear
  • Taurine also has antioxidant and membrane-stabilizing activities. Much remains to be learned about the role of taurine in human physiology.


  • 1) Azuma, J. et al. Taurine and congestive heart failure, Circulation Research, 34(4): 543-57
  • 2) Lombardini, J.et al. Elevated blood Taurine levels in acute myocardial infarction, Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, 98 (6): 849-59
  • 3) Chazov, E. et al. Taurine and electrical activity of the heart, Circulation Research, 35(suppl) 3: 11-21
  • 4) Shustova T. et al. Effect of Taurine on potassium, calcium, and sodium levels in the blood and tissues of rats, J. Vopr. Med. Khim, 32(4):113-16
  • 5) Franconi, F. et al. Protective effectof Taurin on hypoxia, Biochemical Pharmacology, 34(15):2611-15
  • 6) Werbach, M. Nutritional Influences on Illness, Third Line Press, California 1987
  • 7) Mantovani, J. et al. Effects of Taurine of Seizure, Arch Neuro, 35: 672
  • 8) Huxtable, R. et al. Prolonged anticonvulsant action of taurine, Canadian journal of Neurological Science, 5;220
  • 9) YamanakaY. et al. Effects of dietary taurine on choleserol gallstone formation, Journal of Nutritional Science, Vitaminol, 31 (2): 226-32
  • 10) Dorvil, N. et al. Taurine prevents cholestasis induced by lithocholic acid sulfate in guinea pigs. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 37 (23): 221
  • 11) Kohasi, N. Urinary taurine in essential hypertension, Japanese Heart Journal, 24 (1):91-101
  • 12) Latifi, Rifat MD, Amino Acids in Critical Care and Cancer, 1994.
  • 13) Balch, J. M.D., Balch, P., C.N.C., Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 1997.
  • 14) Di Pasquale, M, Amino Acids and Proteins for the Athlete, the Anabolic Edge, 1997.
  • 15) Smith, Lacaille, Lepage, Ronco, Lamarre, Roy, “Taurine Decreases Fecal Fatty Acid and Sterol Excretion in Cystic Fibrosis”, Am. J. Dis. Child., 1991.
  • 16) Lombardini, JB, “Taurine Retinal Function”, Brain Res. Rev., 1991.
  • 17) Lomdardini, JB, “Recent Studies of Taurine on Taurine in the Central Nervous System”, Adv. Exp. Med. Biol., 1992.
  • 18) Azuma, Savamura, Awata, et al.; “Double-blind Crossover Trial of Taurine in Congestive Heart Failure”, Curr. Therap. Res., 1983.
  • 19) Batuev, Brgina, Aleksandrov, Riabinskaia, “Audiogneic Epilepsy: a Morophofunctional Analysis” Bibliographic Citation: Zh-Vyssh-Nerv-Deiat-Im-I-P-Pavlove, 1997.
  • 20) Birdsall, TC, “Therapeutic Applications of Taurine”, Alten-Med-Rev., 1998.