Full Papers

Amino Acids

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 53-76

First online:

Taurine: Protective properties against ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis and lipid peroxidation during chronic ethanol consumption in rats

  • M. D. J. KeraiAffiliated withCentre for Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, The School of Pharmacy, University of London
  • , Catherine J. WaterfieldAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacy, King's College London
  • , S. H. KenyonAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry, The School of Pharmacy, University of London
  • , D. S. AskerAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacy, King's College London
  • , J. A. TimbrellAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacy, King's College London

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Alcohol was administered chronically to female Sprague Dawley rats in a nutritionally adequate totally liquid diet for 28 days. This resulted in hepatic steatosis and lipid peroxidation. Taurine, when co-administered with alcohol, reduced the hepatic steatosis and completely prevented lipid peroxidation. The protective properties of taurine in preventing fatty liver were also demonstrated histologically. Although alcohol was found not to affect the urinary excretion of taurine (a non-invasive marker of liver damage), levels of serum and liver taurine were markedly raised in animals receiving alcohol + taurine compared to animals given taurine alone. The ethanol-inducible form of cytochrome P-450 (CYP2E1) was significantly induced by alcohol; the activity was significantly lower than controls and barely detectable in animals fed the liquid alcohol diet containing taurine. In addition, alcohol significantly increased homocysteine excretion into urine throughout the 28 day period of ethanol administration; however, taurine did not prevent this increase. There was evidence of slight cholestasis in animals treated with alcohol and alcohol + taurine, as indicated by raised serum bile acids and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). The protective effects of taurine were attributed to the potential of bile acids, especially taurine conjugated bile acids (taurocholic acid) to inhibit the activity of some microsomal enzymes (CYP2E1). Thesein vivo findings demonstrate for the first time that hepatic steatosis and lipid peroxidation, occurring as a result of chronic alcohol consumption, can be ameliorated by administration of taurine to rats.


Amino acids Taurine Ethanol Protection Hepatic steatosis Lipid peroxidation CYP2E1 Homocysteine Methionine synthase