Taurine 2 pp 333-342 | Cite as


A Taurine-Related Endogenous Substance in the Retina and Its Role in Vision
  • Andranik M. Petrosian
  • Jasmine E. Haroutounian
  • Lida V. Zueva
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 403)


Since the first description of taurine in 182735 the range of biological phenomena involving this substance has progressively expanded. Efforts have been made to create a unifying theory for the actions of taurine10, 11, 36. It is believed that “A limited number of basic mechanisms of action may underlie this confusing plethora of biological effects”10. In this respect, the actions of taurine as an osmolyte, its conjugation with bile acids and lipids, and its interactions with Ca2+, phospholipids, and chemoreceptors are of definite interest. Final understanding of the role of taurine in any organ or tissue is related to the elucidation of the relative contribution of these or a few other basic mechanisms in its function. It is necessary to clarify which is the primary action among the multiple actions of taurine in a given organ or tissue. For example, in some marine species the action of taurine as an osmolyte26 seems primary. In liver, probably more central is taurine conjugation with bile acids and lipids, while in the heart taurine-Ca2+ interactions seem primary3, 5, 29, although taurine may also be an osmoregulator in this organ34. To understand the role of taurine in the retina it seems best to consider each cell system separately. Large amounts of taurine (10–40 mM) are characteristic for the retina of all species tested, even for those which have low taurine content in other tissues17, 20, 37. Among the richer layers, photoreceptors are most abundant in taurine, containing 50–80% of the taurine pool of the retina15, 20, 37. High levels of taurine in photoreceptor cells are mainly supported by taurine transport, which is predominantly localized around the photoreceptor cell nuclei14. About a 50% drop of taurine levels in the retina can be obtained either by a taurine-deficient diet in animals with low liver capacity for taurine synthesis9, 12, 31, 33 or by treatment of rats (which can synthesize taurine) with the taurine transport antagonist guanidinoethane sulfonate (GES)13, 25. Retinal depletion of taurine causes serious alterations in the structure. The most severe retinal damage appears in the regions of highest rhodopsin content9, 12, 13, 25, 31, 33. Taurine deficiency causes a noticeable reduction of rhodopsin level in rat photoreceptors13 and causes a drop of amplitude of the a-and b-waves of the electroretinogram (ERG)13, 31.


Pigment Epithelium HPLC Profile Retinol Level Taurine Deficiency Taurine Depletion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andranik M. Petrosian
    • 1
  • Jasmine E. Haroutounian
    • 1
  • Lida V. Zueva
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Biochemistry of National Academy of Sciences of ArmeniaYerevan 44Armenia
  2. 2.Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of National Academy of Sciences of RussiaSt.PeterbourgRussia

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