Physilogical role of taurine in heart and muscle
Taurine (aminoethane sulfonic acid) is an ubiquitous compound, found in very high concentrations in heart and muscle. Although taurine is classified as an amino acid, it does not participate in peptide bond formation. Nonetheless, the amino group of taurine is involved in a number of important conjugation reactions as well as in the scavenging of hypochlorous acid. Because taurine is a fairly inert compound, it is an ideal modulator of basic processes, such as osmotic pressure, cation homeostasis, enzyme activity, receptor regulation, cell development and cell signalling. The present review discusses several physiological functions of taurine. First, the observation that taurine depletion leads to the development of a cardiomyopathy indicates a role for taurine in the maintenance of normal contractile function. Evidence is provided that this function of taurine is mediated by changes in the activity of key Ca2+ transporters and the modulation Ca2+ sensitivity of the myofibrils. Second, in some species, taurine is an established osmoregulator, however, in mammalian heart the osmoregulatory function of taurine has recently been questioned. Third, taurine functions as an indirect regulator of oxidative stress. Although this action of taurine has been widely discussed, its mechanism of action is unclear.