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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;775:299-310. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-6130-2_25.

Taurine's effects on the neuroendocrine functions of pancreatic β cells.

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Department of Biology, College of Staten Island, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA.


Taurine plays significant physiological roles, including those involved in neurotransmission. Taurine is a potent γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) agonist and alters cellular events via GABA(A) receptors. Alternately, taurine is transported into cells via the high affinity taurine transporter (TauT), where it may also play a regulatory role. We have previously demonstrated that treatment of Hit-T15 cells with 1 mM taurine for 24 h significantly decreases insulin and GABA levels. We have also demonstrated that chronic in vivo administration of taurine results in an up-regulation of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the key enzyme in GABA synthesis. Here, we wished to test if administration of 1 mM taurine for 24 h may increase release of another β cell neurotransmitter somatostatin (SST) and also directly impact up-regulation of GAD synthesis. Treatment with taurine did not significantly alter levels of SST (p > 0.05) or GAD67 (p > 0.05). This suggests that taurine does not directly affect SST release, nor does it directly affect GAD synthesis. Taken together with our observation that taurine does promote GABA release via large dense-core vesicles, the data suggest that taurine may alter membrane potential, which in turn would affect calcium flux. We show here that 1 mM taurine does not alter intracellular Ca(2+) concentrations from 20 to 80 s post treatment (p > 0.05), but does increase Ca(2+) flux between 80 and 200 s post-treatment (p < 0.005). This suggests that taurine may induce a biphasic response in β cells. The initial response of taurine via GABA(A) receptors hyperpolarizes β cell and sequesters Ca(2+). Subsequently, taurine may affect Ca(2+) flux in long term via interaction with K(ATP) channels.

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