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Pharmacology of taurine.

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  • 1The Centre for Laboratory Medicine and Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.


Taurine has a number of physiological functions, e.g., in cell volume regulation and inhibitory neuromodulation. Taurine and its derivatives have also been tested as potential pharmacological agents in many pathological states. We endeavor here to review the present status of this investigation. Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is a simple sulfur-containing amino acid present in virtually all cells throughout the animal kingdom. In particular, it is enriched in electrically excitable tissues such as brain, retina, heart and skeletal muscles. In the central nervous system, taurine has been implicated in two major phenomena; in cell volume regulation [1-3] and in inhibitory neuromodulation or neurotransmission [4-7]. Its function as a neurotransmitter implies the existence of specific taurine receptors and the neuromodulatory role, an interference with functions of other transmitter systems. There is scant evidence to corroborate the first assumption, but ample for the latter. In other tissues taurine has also been thought to act as an antioxidant in cell protection and to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular functions. These taurine properties are only partially explored so far but taurine and many of its derivatives have been tested as potential pharmaceutical agents in a number of pathological states.

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