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Taurine, or 2-aminoethane sulfonic acid, is a conditionally essential amino acid. It can be obtained either exogenously through dietary sources or endogenously through biosynthesis from methionine and cysteine precursors, both essential sulfurcontaining alpha-amino acids. Taurine is known to be an inhibitory neurotransmitter and neuromodulator. In humans, small clinical trials of taurine supplementation in adults have suggested benefits in metabolic and inflammatory diseases. Concentrations of circulating taurine decline with aging in mice, monkeys, and humans. A reversal of this decline through taurine supplementation increased the health span (the period of healthy living) and life span in mice and health span in monkeys.[1][2]

The structure of taurine

The structure of taurine has two main differences from the essential amino acids. First, taurine’s amino group is attached to the betacarbon rather than the alpha-carbon, making it a beta-amino acid instead of an alpha-amino acid. Second, the acid group in taurine is sulfonic acid, whereas the essential amino acids have a carboxylic acid. Because of its distinctive structure, taurine is not used as a structural unit in proteins, existing mostly as a free amino acid within cells. It is structurally analogous to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.[3] Taurine is the end product of the oxidation of hypotaurine.[4]

Age- and disease-related deficiency

Healthy elderly patients ages 61 to 81 have up to a 49% decrease in plasma taurine concentration compared with healthy individuals ages 27 to 57.[1][5] Investigation of the effects of long-term administration of taurine at low doses on aging in rodents suggest that taurine could attenuate the age-related decline in O2 consumption and skeletal muscle spontaneous locomotor activity via peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α), succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), cytochrome c (Cycs), myocyte enhancer factor 2A (MEF2A), glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), and myoglobin, which are regulated by the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK),[6] and via the interaction with the taurine transporter to stimulate phospholipase C (PLC) to increase the calcium influx in the cells and thereby activate AMPK.[7][8] However, it is assumed that an adequately powered randomized-controlled-trial (RCT) is needed to confirm whether taurine can meaningfully improve metabolic and microbiome health, and biological age. This trial should incorporate certain elements in order to provide the much-needed evidence to guide doctors, and also the community at large, to determine whether this promising and inexpensive amino acid is useful in improving human metabolic health.[9]

Taurine may improve exercise capacity

Blood taurine levels can be increased, at least temporarily, after a short period of exercise,[1] with some authors suggested that taurine may play a causal role in explaining why exercise is beneficial to human metabolic health by mediating atheroprotection.[10] Some studies suggest that taurine may improve exercise capacity, reduce muscle damage, and alleviate exercise-induced oxidative stress.[11] Its potential to increase muscle contractility and decrease fatigue has garnered interest among athletes. Nevertheless, conflicting findings warrant caution in interpreting these claims and several concerns on the use and abuse of energy drinks have been raised.[12][13]

Effects of Taurine on Gut Microbiota

Foods rich in taurine include meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products. Vegetarians and vegans may have a lower taurine intake due to their dietary restrictions.[14] Taurine was shown to positively affect the restoration of intestinal homeostasis, suggesting that it could be harnessed to treat or prevent gut dysbiosis.[15]

Human intestinal microbiota converts taurine to the toxic metabolite hydrogen sulfide (H2S) with ambivalent impact on host health.[16]

Infections induce taurine production so that gut microbiota convert taurine to sulfide and ultimately inhibit pathogen respiration, which contributes to the maintenance of resistance to pathogens.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Singh, P., Gollapalli, K., Mangiola, S., Schranner, D., Yusuf, M. A., Chamoli, M., ... & Yadav, V. K. (2023). Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging. Science, 380(6649), eabn9257. PMID: 37289866 PMC10630957 DOI: 10.1126/science.abn9257
  2. Valero, M. V. (2023). Taurine supplement makes animals live longer — what it means for people is unclear. Nature. PMID: 37296260 DOI: 10.1038/d41586-023-01910-4
  3. Jacobsen, J. G., & Smith, L. H. (1968). Biochemistry and physiology of taurine and taurine derivatives. Physiological reviews, 48(2), 424-511.
  4. Mizota, T., Hishiki, T., Shinoda, M., Naito, Y., Hirukawa, K., Masugi, Y., ... & Kitagawa, Y. (2022). The hypotaurine-taurine pathway as an antioxidative mechanism in patients with acute liver failure. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 70(1), 54–63. PMID: 35068682 PMC8764102 DOI: 10.3164/jcbn.21-50
  5. Adachi, Y., Ono, N., Imaizumi, A., Muramatsu, T., Andou, T., Shimodaira, Y., ... & Nukada, H. (2018). Plasma amino acid profile in severely frail elderly patients in Japan. International Journal of Gerontology, 12(4), 290-293.
  6. Ma, Y., Maruta, H., Sun, B., Wang, C., Isono, C., & Yamashita, H. (2021). Effects of long-term taurine supplementation on age-related changes in skeletal muscle function of Sprague–Dawley rats. Amino Acids, 53, 159-170. PMID: 33398526 DOI: 10.1007/s00726-020-02934-0
  7. Sun, B., Maruta, H., Ma, Y., & Yamashita, H. (2023). Taurine Stimulates AMP-Activated Protein Kinase and Modulates the Skeletal Muscle Functions in Rats via the Induction of Intracellular Calcium Influx. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 24(4), 4125. PMID: 36835534 PMC9962205 DOI: 10.3390/ijms24044125
  8. Santulli, G., Kansakar, U., Varzideh, F., Mone, P., Jankauskas, S. S., & Lombardi, A. (2023). Functional Role of Taurine in Aging and Cardiovascular Health: An Updated Overview. Nutrients, 15(19), 4236. PMID: 37836520 PMC10574552 DOI: 10.3390/nu15194236
  9. Ho, K. M., Lee, A., Wu, W., Chan, M. T., Ling, L., Lipman, J., ... & Wong, M. (2023). Flattening the biological age curve by improving metabolic health: to taurine or not to taurine, that’s the question. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology: JGC, 20(11), 813. PMID: 38098466 PMC10716614 DOI: 10.26599/1671-5411.2023.11.004
  10. Beutner, F., Ritter, C., Scholz, M., Teren, A., Holdt, L. M., Teupser, D., ... & Ceglarek, U. (2022). A metabolomic approach to identify the link between sports activity and atheroprotection. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 29(3), 436-444. PMID: 33624084 DOI: 10.1093/eurjpc/zwaa122
  11. Chen, Q., Li, Z., Pinho, R. A., Gupta, R. C., Ugbolue, U. C., Thirupathi, A., & Gu, Y. (2021). The dose response of taurine on aerobic and strength exercises: a systematic review. Frontiers in Physiology, 12, 700352. PMID: 34497536 PMC8419774 DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2021.700352
  12. Erdmann, J., Wiciński, M., Wódkiewicz, E., Nowaczewska, M., Słupski, M., Otto, S. W., ... & Malinowski, B. (2021). Effects of energy drink consumption on physical performance and potential danger of inordinate usage. Nutrients, 13(8), 2506. PMID: 34444666 [PMC8401129 DOI: 10.3390/nu13082506
  13. Jagim, A. R., Harty, P. S., Tinsley, G. M., Kerksick, C. M., Gonzalez, A. M., Kreider, R. B., ... & Antonio, J. (2023). International society of sports nutrition position stand: energy drinks and energy shots. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 20(1), 2171314. PMID: 36862943 PMC9987737 DOI: 10.1080/15502783.2023.2171314
  14. Laidlaw, S. A., Shultz, T. D., Cecchino, J. T., & Kopple, J. D. (1988). Plasma and urine taurine levels in vegans. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 47(4), 660-663. PMID: 3354491 DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/47.4.660
  15. Qian, W., Li, M., Yu, L., Tian, F., Zhao, J., & Zhai, Q. (2023). Effects of Taurine on Gut Microbiota Homeostasis: An Evaluation Based on Two Models of Gut Dysbiosis. Biomedicines, 11(4), 1048. PMID: 37189666 PMC10135931 DOI: 10.3390/biomedicines11041048
  16. Peck, S. C., Denger, K., Burrichter, A., Irwin, S. M., Balskus, E. P., & Schleheck, D. (2019). A glycyl radical enzyme enables hydrogen sulfide production by the human intestinal bacterium Bilophila wadsworthia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(8), 3171-3176. PMID: 30718429 PMCID: PMC6386719 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1815661116
  17. Stacy, A., Andrade-Oliveira, V., McCulloch, J. A., Hild, B., Oh, J. H., Perez-Chaparro, P. J., ... & Belkaid, Y. (2021). Infection trains the host for microbiota-enhanced resistance to pathogens. Cell, 184(3), 615-627. PMID: 33453153 PMCID: PMC8786454 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.12.011