= ox, as it was discovered in ox bile) or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid
is an acidic chemical substance found in
acts as an
emulsifier for ingested lipids
and assists in their absorption. Taurine may also come from synthetic
Chemically, it is a colorless crystalline substance with the empirical
formula C2H7NO3S, formed by the
hydrolysis of taurocholic acid or decarboxylation of cysteine. Taurine is found
in urine, as well as juices and fluids of muscle, lungs and nerve tissue of many
animals, and plays several important roles in the body and is essential to
newborns of many species. While it is often referred to as an amino acid, this
is an inaccurate categorization since it does not contain any carboxylic acid
Physiology and Pharmacology
Taurine has three major roles in human metabolism:
It plays a role in
digestion. It is conjugated with the bile acids chenodeoxycholic acid and
cholic acid to form (at the usually above 7 pH of bile) the bile salts,
sodium taurochenodeoxycholate and sodium taurocholate.
It may assist in the formation of
reactive oxygen species for the respiratory burst in neutrophil granulocytes
There is evidence that it is an inhibitory
neurotransmitter in the central nervous system as well as a precursor to
It has been linked to a number of other metabolic functions but its role is
It has been tested medically in the treatment of
congestive heart failure, cystic fibrosis,
epilepsy and several other conditions with positive results. It is used by some
as a neutralizer for monosodium glutamate
. However, neither the harmfulness of monosodium glutamate nor the
benefit of taurine has been proven.
Sources of dietary taurine include shellfish and organ meats such as liver.
Taurine, it is hoped, could eventually be used to reverse liver damage caused
by alcoholism or a heavy night's drinking.Tests show that taurine can reverse,
or even prevent, the build up of liver fat.
Taurine is one of the active ingredients commonly found in energy drinks such
as Red Bull, and in pills which often feature caffeine and/or other stimulant
ingredients. The manufacturers claim that taurine enhances the effects of
caffeine, but to date there have been no studies performed to confirm this.
Taurine is essential for
cat food is
supplemented with taurine, which is why other pet foods are not recommended for
cats. In cats, taurine "helps maintain good eye health, regulate the heart beat,
maintain cell membrane stability, and prevent brain cell over-activity"
Taurine supplements may be important to counteract the effects of human aging
on the natural taurine production process. As humans age, hepatic taurine
production can fall or fail completely, producing low to no energy; cardiac,
digestive, and mental problems; and premature death.
In biomedical research, taurine is also used in buffers for gel
electrophoresis of nucleic acids.
Some multi-purpose solutions for
lenses contain taurine. For example, one provider claims that
 taurine protects corneal cells from osmotic stress and functions as an
antioxidant. Taurine does occur naturally in tears and ocular tissues.