Taurine 2 pp 19-36 | Cite as

Depletion of Feline Taurine Levels by β-Alanine and Dietary Taurine Restriction

  • J. A. Sturman
  • P. Lu
  • J. M. Messing
  • H. Imaki
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 403)


It has long been known that cats are dependent on a dietary source of taurine to maintain their body pools because they have a limited capacity for biosynthesis. Taurine deficiency results in retinal degeneration, myocardial failure, decreased immune responsiveness, and a profound adverse effect on feline pregnancy and outcome of the progeny30, 32, 33. Even with zero dietary taurine intake, tissue levels of taurine are only reduced to the point that equilibrium with the biosynthesized taurine is reached, no matter how long cats are maintained on such a diet25, 34. A number of abnormalities have been documented in the brains of surviving kittens from taurine-deprived mothers33, but, to date, no abnormalities have been reported in the brains of taurine-deprived adult cats, other than the decreased concentration of taurine. In this study we have attempted to reduce taurine levels even further by using β-alanine, which competes with taurine for the same transport systems, in the drinking water. β-Alanine was used rather than the more frequently used competitive inhibitor of taurine transport, guanidinoethanesulfonic acid (GES), because cats are able to extensively metabolize GES to form taurine using a transamidinase or amidinohydrolase14, 15, 31. We report the concentrations of taurine and β-alanine in tissues and fluids of cats following 20 weeks of β-alanine ingestion, and document the resulting morphological changes in the cerebellum and profound degenerative changes in the retina.


Purkinje Cell Outer Segment Granule Cell Layer Tapetal Cell Outer Nuclear Layer 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Sturman
    • 1
  • P. Lu
    • 1
  • J. M. Messing
    • 1
  • H. Imaki
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Developmental BiochemistryNew York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental DisabilitiesStaten IslandUSA

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