Taurine is a non-essential sulfur-containing amino acid that functions with glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid as a neuroinhibitory transmitter. While taurine does not have a genetic codon and is not incorporated into proteins and enzymes, it does play an important role in bile acid metabolism.
Taurine is incorporated into one of the most abundant bile acids, chenodeoxychloic acid where it serves to emulsify dietary lipids in the intestine, promoting digestion. It is an end product of L-cysteine metabolism and the principal free intracellular amino acid in many tissues of humans and other animal species. Taurine is present in high amounts in the brain, retina, myocardium, skeletal and smooth muscle, platelets and neutrophils. It is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid because it is necessary to be supplied in the diet of infants for normal retinal and brain development. Taurine is a derivative of L-Methionine >>>>> L-Cysteine >>> Taurine. Taurine synthesis occurs in the liver and the brain. Concentrates of Taurine have also been found in extremely high concentrates in the brain, intestines and skeletal muscles.
Most amino acids have a L- or D- configuration, which means the molecule when put into a solution will rotate light either to the left (Levo=L) or the right (Dextro = D). Taurine does not polarize light and consequently does not have an L- or D- configuration.
It has been established that taurine concentration is extraordinarily high in the developing brain, and falls of sharply thereafter. This occurs at a time when the presumed synthetic pathway, via cysteine sulfinate decarboxylase, has little measurable activity, suggesting that a dietary source of taurine is essential. Moreover, it has been found that high concentrations of taurine are present in breast milk, which reflects the important need for taurine by the growing animal. Research of taurine was greatly stimulated by the finding that it is an essential nutrient for cats. Taurine deficiency in cats can result in a variety of clinical abnormalities, including central retinal degeneration, dilated cardiomyopathy and platelet function abnormalities. Shortly after the discovery that dietary taurine deficiency leads to retinal degeneration in cats, it was observed that infants who were fed formulas lacking taurine had lower plasma levels of this amino acid than did infants fed human milk. Further, it was discovered that children receiving total parenteral nutrition not containing taurine had abnormal electroretinograms, as well as low plasma taurine levels. Taurine has been added to most human infant formulas since the mid-1980s.
Taurine is produced in the body from L-cysteine. The first reaction in the pathway is the formation of cysteine sulfinic acid. Cysteine sulfinic acid (CSA) is converted to hypotaurine via the enzyme CSA-decarboxylase, and taurine is formed from hypotaurine. Cats have low activity of CSA-decarboxylase. Dietary taurine mainly comes from animal food. Taurine is present in very low levels in plant foods. Taurine is found in seaweeds.
The most understood role of taurine in humans is its involvement in the formation of taurine bile acid conjugates in the liver, which are essential for micelle formation and fat absorption. Taurine is involved in the pre-and post-natal development of the central nervous system and visual system, although the details of its involvement in these processes are unclear. Taurine also has antioxidant and membrane-stabilizing activities. Much remains to be learned about the role of taurine in human physiology.
Taurine is different from most biological amino acids in a few particulars. It is a sulfonic acid rather than a carboxylic acid; it is a beta-amino acid rather than an alpha-amino acid and it does not have a chiral center. Taurine is also known as 2-aminoethane sulfonic acid. Its molecular formula is C2H7NO3 S, and its molecular weight is 215.15 daltons.
Synonyms: 2-aminoethanesulphonic acid, 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, taurin
Molecular formula: C2H7NO3S
CAS No: 107-35-7
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