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The impact of taurine- and beta-alanine-supplemented diets on behavioral and neurochemical parameters in mice: antidepressant versus anxiolytic-like effects


Taurine, a substrate of taurine transporter, has functions as a neuromodulator and antioxidant and beta-alanine, a taurine transporter inhibitor, has a role as a neurotransmitter in the brain, and they were expected to be involved in depression-like behavior and antidepressant treatment. These facts aroused our interest in new capabilities of taurine and beta-alanine. Thus, to investigate the effects of chronic ingestion of taurine- (22.5 mmol/kg diet) supplemented diet and beta-alanine- (22.5 mmol/kg diet) supplemented diet under acute stressful conditions, behavioral changes and brain metabolites were compared with mice fed a control diet. In the open field test, no significant difference was observed in locomotor activity among groups. In the elevated plus-maze test, however, significant increases in the percentage of time spent and entries in the open arms were observed in the beta-alanine-supplemented diet fed group compared to both controls and animals fed with taurine-supplemented diet. Moreover, a significant decrease in the duration of immobility was observed in the taurine-supplemented diet group in the forced swimming test compared to both controls and animals fed with beta-alanine-supplemented diet. Taurine-supplemented diet increased taurine and l-arginine concentrations in the hypothalamus. In contrast, beta-alanine-supplemented diet decreased the concentration of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, a major metabolite of serotonin, in the hypothalamus. Beta-alanine-supplemented diet also increased carnosine (beta-alanyl-l-histidine) concentration in the cerebral cortex and hypothalamus, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor concentration in the hippocampus. These results suggested that taurine-supplemented diet had an antidepressant-like effect and beta-alanine-supplemented diet had an anxiolytic-like effect.

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This study was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japanese Society of Pet Animal Nutrition and MEXT City Area Program (Development Stage). The authors are grateful to Dr. M. A. Cline, Radford University, USA, for his reading of the manuscript, and the staff and students of the Laboratory of Chemistry and Technology of Animal Products in Kyushu University for their assistance in the amino acid analysis.

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Correspondence to Mitsuhiro Furuse.

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Murakami, T., Furuse, M. The impact of taurine- and beta-alanine-supplemented diets on behavioral and neurochemical parameters in mice: antidepressant versus anxiolytic-like effects. Amino Acids 39, 427–434 (2010).

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  • Taurine
  • Beta-alanine
  • Elevated plus-maze test
  • Forced swimming test
  • Amino acids
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor