Taurine (2-aminoethanesulphonic acid) is a nonessential amino acid the body produces naturally from vitamin B-6 and the amino acids cysteine and methionine. Taurine was found to exhibit various pharmacological effects, including protection against ischemia-reperfusion injury, modulation of intracellular calcium concentration, and antiatherogenic, antioxidant and blood pressure-lowering properties. In Japan, taurine is used to treat ischemic heart disease (IHD), and heart arrhythmia in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).
Taurine and Heart Problems
Taurine makes up approximately 50% of the free amino acids in the heart cells. It has a positive inotropic action on cardiac tissue, and has been proved in some trials to lower blood pressure. Researchers reported that taurine can lower left ventricular end-diastolic pressure in people with heart failure.
Although the exact mechanisms of the potential useful effects of taurine in ischemic heart disease have yet to be identified, based on the information available in the literature, it can be suggested that the mechanisms could include attenuation of Ca 2+ overload, antioxidant properties or membrane-stabilizing actions. The consequence of Ca2+ excess is the accumulation of intracellular calcium, ultimately leading to cellular death. Taurine may both indirectly and directly help regulate intracellular Ca2+ ion levels by modulating the activity of the voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels. Taurine has been found to partially block the effects of Angiotensin II implying that taurine may interfere with different actions of Angiotensin II in cardiovascular cells. Angiotensin II is an hormone that plays a important role in the maintenance of cardiovascular homeostasis.
Congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart has trouble pumping blood, which leads to fluid accumulating in the legs and lungs. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed, “taurine is an effective agent for the treatment of heart failure without any adverse effects.” In a 1983 study, participants reported a important relief from their congestive heart failure (CHF) symptoms while taking taurine in 2 g doses 3 times a day compared to participants taking the placebo. Taking taurine seems to improve heart function and symptoms in people with moderate heart failure (New York Heart Association functional class II) to severe heart failure (New York Heart Association functional class IV). Some patients with serious heart failure rapidly improve from New York Heart Association (NYHA) class IV to II after 4 to 8 weeks of therapy. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 58 patient with congestive heart failure took either placebo or 2 g of taurine 3 times daily for four weeks. During taurine therapy, the study participants showed important improvement in breathlessness, heart palpitations, fluid buildup, and heart x-ray, as well as standard scales of heart failure severity.
A study in the “Journal of Cardiology” compared the effects of 500 mg of taurine 3 times a day with a placebo on people with left ventricular heart failure. The participants who received the taurine substantially increased exercise distance, and they improved their functional mobility over 2-week period, while the placebo group showed no changes. In a clinical study, the effect of oral administration of taurine (3 g/day) and coenzyme Q10 (30 mg/day) in 17 participants with congestive heart failure (CHF) secondary to ischemic or idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy was compared. In the taurine-treated group, unlike the coenzyme Q10-treated group, an development of the systolic left ventricular function was observed after 6 weeks.
Lebanese scientists demonstrated that the incidence of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia were substantially reduced when taurine treatment was utilized. A suggested dosage range is 1500-4000 mg daily. When taurine is administered with urokinase, a plasminogen activator (an enzyme that hydrolyzes arginine and lysine), serum endothelin levels reduction after 8 hours post-infarction and stayed suppressed for several days. This demonstrates that taurine can beneficially affect serum endothelin levels and therefore be a important adjunct to thrombolytic cure. In a placebo-controlled study of twelve people with stable angina, intravenous infusion of 5 g taurine 1 to 3 hours before coronary artery bypass surgery reduced the level of lipoperoxidation products, an indicator of ROS, during reperfusion. The mean oxidative stress ratio comparing reperfusion to pre-operative biopsy samples was 1.12 in the taurine pretreated group versus 2.45 in the placebo group.