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Med Hypotheses. 2004;63(3):419-25.

A taurine-supplemented vegan diet may blunt the contribution of neutrophil activation to acute coronary events.

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NutriGuard Research, 1051 Hermes Ave., Encinitas, CA 92024, USA.


Neutrophils are activated in the coronary circulation during acute coronary events (unstable angina and myocardial infarction), often prior to the onset of ischemic damage. Moreover, neutrophils infiltrate coronary plaque in these circumstances, and may contribute to the rupture or erosion of this plaque, triggering thrombosis. Activated neutrophils secrete proteolytic enzymes in latent forms which are activated by the hypochlorous acid (HOCl) generated by myeloperoxidase. These phenomena may help to explain why an elevated white cell count has been found to be an independent coronary risk factor. Low-fat vegan diets can decrease circulating leukocytes--neutrophils and monocytes--possibly owing to down-regulation of systemic IGF-I activity. Thus, a relative neutropenia may contribute to the coronary protection afforded by such diets. However, vegetarian diets are devoid of taurine - the physiological antagonist of HOCl--and tissue levels of this nutrient are relatively low in vegetarians. Taurine has anti-atherosclerotic activity in animal models, possibly reflecting a role for macrophage-derived myeloperoxidase in the atherogenic process. Taurine also has platelet-stabilizing and anti-hypertensive effects that presumably could reduce coronary risk. Thus, it is proposed that a taurine-supplemented low-fat vegan diet represents a rational strategy for diminishing the contribution of activated neutrophils to acute coronary events; moreover, such a regimen would work in a number of other complementary ways to promote cardiovascular health. Moderate alcohol consumption, the well-tolerated drug pentoxifylline, and 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors--zileuton, boswellic acids, fish oil--may also have potential in this regard.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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