Am J Cardiovasc Dis 2011;1(3):293-311

Review Article
Role of taurine in the vasculature: an overview of experimental and human

Worku Abebe, Mahmood S. Mozaffari

Department of Oral Biology, College of Dental Medicine, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, GA, USA

Received August 10, 2011; accepted August 29, 2011; Epub September 10, 2011; published September 30, 2011

Abstract: Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid-like endogenous compound found in substantial amounts in
mammalian tissues.  It exerts a diverse array of biological effects, including cardiovascular regulation, antioxidation,
modulation of ion transport, membrane stabilization, osmoregulation, modulation of neurotransmission, bile acid
conjugation, hypolipidemia, antiplatelet activity and modulation of fetal development.  This brief review summarizes the role
of taurine in the vasculature and modulation of blood pressure, based on experimental and human studies.  Oral
supplementation of taurine induces antihypertensive effects in various animal models of hypertension.  These effects of
taurine have been shown to be both centrally and peripherally mediated.   Consistent with this, taurine produces
endothelium-dependent and independent relaxant effects in isolated vascular tissue preparations.  Oral administration of
taurine also ameliorates impairment of vascular reactivity, intimal thickening, arteriosclerosis, endothelial apoptosis,
oxidative stress and inflammation, associated primarily with diabetes and, to a lesser extent with obesity, hypertension and
nicotine-induced vascular adverse events.  In rat aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), taurine acts as an
antiproliferative and antioxidant agent.  In endothelial cells, taurine inhibits apoptosis, inflammation, oxidative stress and
cell death while increasing NO generation.  Oral taurine in hypertensive human patients alleviates the symptoms of
hypertension and also reverses arterial stiffness and brachial artery reactivity in type 1 diabetic patients.  However, despite
these favorable findings, there is a need to further establish certain aspects of the reported results and also consider
addressing unresolved related issues.  In addition, the molecular mechanism(s) involved in the vascular effects of taurine
is largely unknown and requires further investigations.  Elucidation of the mechanisms through which taurine affects the
vasculature could facilitate the development of therapeutic and/or diet-based strategies to reduce the burdens of vascular
diseases. (AJCD1108004).

Keywords: Taurine, isolated vascular tissue preparations, VSMCs (vascular smooth muscle cells), endothelial cells,
vasorelaxation, hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis, taurine deficiency

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Address all correspondence to:
Worku Abebe, PhD
Department of Oral Biology, CL 2140
College of Dental Medicine
Georgia Health Sciences University,
Augusta, Georgia 30912-1128, USA
Telephone: (706) 721-3181
Fax: (706) 721-6252
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