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Life Sci. 1994;54(21):1585-93.

Taurine-induced diuresis and natriuresis in cirrhotic patients with ascites.

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Department of Medicine, Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Isola Tiberina, Rome, Italy.


Taurine is a non-protein sulfur amino acid widely distributed in mammalian tissues, with poorly understood functions. Taurine administration has a variety of hemodynamic effects, including improvement of cardiac function and suppression of sympathetic activity. Increased urinary volume and sodium excretion have been reported in taurine-fed hamsters. Since patients with ascitic liver cirrhosis have severe hemodynamic and renal abnormalities potentially sensitive to taurine feeding, we evaluated the effects of the i.v. infusion of taurine on urinary flow and sodium excretion and on the hormones involved in the control of hydrosaline homeostasis. Eight cirrhotic patients with tense ascites were given an i.v. bolus of taurine (16 mumoles in 40 ml of saline). The next day patients were given saline only, as a control. Diuresis, urinary sodium and plasma renin activity, aldosterone, atrial natriuretic peptide and arginine vasopressin were measured for the following 6 hrs. Plasma taurine increased ten fold after infusion, then decreased exponentially. No side effects were recorded. After taurine, but not after saline, there was a prompt and significant increase in both urinary volume and sodium excretion. Diuresis increased from 340 +/- 43 to 817 +/- 116 microliters/min (p < 0.01); urinary sodium from 13.8 +/- 3 to 26.3 +/- 4 mumoles/min (p < 0.05). Both values returned to normal after 2-3 hrs. Taurine infusion caused a concomitant significant decrease in plasma renin activity (from 7.7 +/- 2.2 to 4.3 +/- 1.9 ng/ml/hr, p < 0.05) and aldosterone (from 588 +/- 47 to 348 +/- 89 pg/ml, p < 0.05), but no changes in atrial natriuretic peptide and arginine vasopressin. We conclude that i.v. taurine infusion in ascitic cirrhosis promotes a transient diuresis and natriuresis, apparently through the inhibition of the renin-aldosterone axis.

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