Amino Acids

, Volume 50, Issue 7, pp 863–875 | Cite as

Taurine prevents ethanol-induced apoptosis mediated by mitochondrial or death receptor pathways in liver cells

  • Gaofeng Wu
  • Jiancheng Yang
  • Hao Lv
  • Wenying Jing
  • Jiaqi Zhou
  • Ying Feng
  • Shumei Lin
  • Qunhui Yang
  • Jianmin Hu
Original Article


One pathogenic mechanism of ethanol-induced liver injury is the excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which may result in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) characterized by cell death due to necrosis and apoptosis. Taurine was proved to protect against liver damage. However, whether taurine attenuates ethanol-induced hepatic apoptosis remains unknown. The present study aims to elucidate this effect and its underlying mechanism. Taurine was administered to ALD rats and an in vitro experiment in which taurine was added to primary rat hepatocytes cultured with ethanol was conducted. Mitochondrial function and anti-oxidative capacity of the liver were tested. TUNEL and AO-EB double staining were conducted to detect apoptosis of liver cells. Expressions of factors and proteins involved in mitochondrial and death receptor pathways were detected by RT-PCR and Western-blot. The results showed that taurine inhibited the decline of cell functions and apoptosis in hepatocytes cultured with ethanol. Furthermore, increased malondialdehyde (MDA) and reduced superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC), cytochrome c oxidase (COX) and NADH dehydrogenase (ND) in ALD rats were mediated by taurine. RT-PCR and western-blot results revealed that taurine down-regulated expression of Bax, Fas, Fas ligand (FasL), caspase 3 and caspase 9 while up-regulating the expression of Bcl-2 in ethanol-cultured hepatocytes. In summary, taurine inhibit ethanol-induced hepatic apoptosis by regulating mitochondrial or death receptor pathways.

Graphical abstract


Alcoholic liver disease Apoptosis Oxidative damage Taurine Rat 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31772694, 31302051 and 31172285).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

All procedures using animals were conducted according to the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The procedures were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of Shenyang Agricultural University (No. 20141013).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liaoning Provincial Key Laboratory of Zoonosis, College of Animal Science and Veterinary MedicineShenyang Agricultural UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China

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