Changed Taurine-Glutamic Acid Content and Altered Nervous Tissue Cytoarchitecture

  • Nico M. Van Gelder
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 139)


Despite the efforts of numerous investigators, it appears difficult at this time to assign in mammals any definite biological role to taurine. Nevertheless, the special association of taurine with electrically excitable tissue (heart, muscle and CNS) supposes its importance in the process of conduction and/or synaptic transmission. In these organs taurine seems involved in, among other phenomena, the regulation of calcium metabolism, temperature control as well as in the maintenance of the compartmentalized metabolism of glutamic acid, and other amino acids, whose metabolism and sequestration require a combination of neuronal and glial elements. Other findings suggest that the amino acid may perform a critical function in neonatal and, perhaps, embryonic development of the central nervous system (2,15). The latter suggestion is further supported by the fact that in women, taurine excretion becomes sharply curtailed during the period of pregnancy and lactation (1). That its role in assuring proper cellular “development” is not confined to nervous tissue may be extrapolated from findings that a similar diminished excretion of taurine occurs during wound healing (36). Other conditions such as radiation damage (14), hormonal imbalance (7,8), the viability of tissue cultures (13) and certain disease states (16,17) also appear reflected by alterations in taurine excretion or tissue taurine content, The possible function of taurine in such critical biological phenomena assumes even greater significance when it is con-sidered in the context of findings indicating that in man and a number of other species the amino acid probably remains essential nutrient throughout life (19). Temporary or chronic dietary deficiencies as well as certain drugs, an acquired or familial tendency for high taurine excretion, and the physical condition of the individual, may therefore all represent important factors in the prevention or reversal by taurine of cytoarchitectural or functional damage in organs and tissues (21,22,23,33,35).


Glutamic Acid Nervous Tissue Neuronal Element Taurine Level Taurine Content 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nico M. Van Gelder
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de recherche en sciences neurologiques Département de physiologie Faculté de médecineUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

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