Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 188, Issue 1, pp 89–99 | Cite as

Taurine protects cardiac contractility in killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus, by enhancing sarcoplasmic reticular Ca2+ cycling

  • Elenor F. Henry
  • Tyson J. MacCormackEmail author
Original Paper


Intracellular taurine is abundant in many animals and it influences an array of physiological processes, including osmoregulation, metabolism, and cardiac contractility. Taurine is an important osmolyte in teleost hearts, but its role in stress tolerance, cardiac metabolism, and contractility has not been assessed. The goal of this study was to determine if ventricular taurine concentration changes in response to environmental stress and to characterize its influence on contractility. Cardiac taurine concentrations varied in killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) but were generally maintained following acute environmental challenges. In isometrically contracting ventricular strips, supplemental taurine (40 mmol L−1) protected peak tension development (F max) at high stimulation frequencies, an effect abolished by treatment with ryanodine, a blocker of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release. In the presence of ryanodine, taurine-treated preparations were also better able to maintain F max at supraphysiological extracellular Ca2+ levels, but a prior anoxia exposure abolished this effect. Taurine had no impact on basal F max during or after anoxia, but it provided additive protection to high-frequency contractility post-anoxia. Tissue oxygen consumption and extracellular glucose utilization were unaffected by taurine in non-contracting preparations, indicating that it does not impact energy metabolism. Overall, the results suggest that cardiac taurine levels are well maintained on acute time scales in this highly stress-tolerant species. Supplemental taurine has no effect on aerobic metabolism in vitro, but it significantly improved cardiac contractility in a manner dependent upon sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ cycling. The data indicate that taurine likely plays an important role in the regulation of cardiac performance in teleosts.


Fish heart Taurine Anoxia Reoxygenation Killifish Calcium sensitivity Glucose metabolism Ryanodine 



EFH was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Award. TJM was supported by an NSERC Discovery grant. The authors wish to thank Mr. Wayne Anderson for animal care and Mr. Neal Callaghan and Ms. Louise Tunnah for the assistance with statistical analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryMount Allison UniversitySackvilleCanada

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