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Amino Acids. 2012 Nov;43(5):2037-46. doi: 10.1007/s00726-012-1282-2. Epub 2012 Apr 19.

The effects of oral taurine administration on behavior and hippocampal signal transduction in rats.

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  • 1College of Agriculture, Ibaraki University, Ami, Ibaraki 300-0393, Japan.


Taurine, 2-aminoethylsulfonic acid, is one of the most abundant amino acids in the brain. It has various important physiological functions as a neuromodulator and antioxidant. Taurine is expected to be involved in depression; however, knowledge regarding its function in relation to depression is limited. In this study, we attempted to elucidate the effects of oral taurine administration on antidepressant-like behaviors in rats and depression-related signal transduction in the hippocampus. In behavioral tests, rats fed a high taurine (HT: 45.0 mmol/kg taurine) diet for 4 weeks (HT4w) showed decreased immobility in the forced swim test (FS) compared to controls. However, rats fed a low taurine (LT: 22.5 mmol/kg taurine) diet for 4 weeks or an HT diet for 2 weeks (HT2w) did not show a significant difference in FS compared to controls. In biochemical analyses, the expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) 65 and GAD67 in the hippocampus was not affected by taurine administration. However, the phosphorylation levels of extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2), protein kinase B (Akt), glycogen synthase kinase3 beta (GSK3β) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) were increased in the hippocampus of HT4w and HT2w rats. Phospho-calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) was increased in the hippocampus of HT4w rats only. Moreover, no significant changes in these molecules were observed in the hippocampus of rats fed an HT diet for 1 day. In conclusion, our findings suggest that taurine has an antidepressant-like effect and an ability to change depression-related signaling cascades in the hippocampus.

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