The reported clinical utility of taurine in ischemic disorders may reflect a down-regulation of neutrophil activation and adhesion

Med Hypotheses. 1999 Oct;53(4):290-9. doi: 10.1054/mehy.1998.0760.


The first publications regarding clinical use of taurine were Italian reports claiming therapeutic efficacy in angina, intermittent claudication and symptomatic cerebral arteriosclerosis. A down-regulation of neutrophil activation and endothelial adhesion might plausibly account for these observations. Endothelial platelet-activating factor (PAF) is a crucial stimulus to neutrophil adhesion and activation, whereas endothelial nitric oxide (NO) suppresses PAF production and acts in various other ways to antagonize binding and activation of neutrophils. Hypochlorous acid (HOCl), a neutrophil product which avidly oxidizes many sulfhydryl-dependent proteins, can be expected to inhibit NO synthase while up-regulating PAF generation; thus, a vicious circle can be postulated whereby HOCl released by marginating neutrophils acts on capillary or venular endothelium to promote further neutrophil adhesion and activation. Taurine is the natural detoxicant of HOCl, and thus has the potential to intervene in this vicious circle, promoting a less adhesive endothelium and restraining excessive neutrophil activation. Agents which inhibit the action of PAF on neutrophils, such as ginkgolides and pentoxifylline, have documented utility in ischemic disorders and presumably would complement the efficacy of taurine in this regard. Fish oil, which inhibits endothelial expression of various adhesion factors and probably PAF as well, and which suppresses neutrophil leukotriene production, may likewise be useful in ischemia. These agents may additionally constitute a non-toxic strategy for treating inflammatory disorders in which activated neutrophils play a prominent pathogenic role. Double-blind studies to confirm the efficacy of taurine in symptomatic chronic ischemia are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Angina Pectoris / drug therapy*
  • Angina Pectoris / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypochlorous Acid / metabolism
  • Intermittent Claudication / drug therapy*
  • Intermittent Claudication / pathology
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / pathology
  • Neutrophil Activation / drug effects*
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Taurine / pharmacology
  • Taurine / therapeutic use*


  • Taurine
  • Hypochlorous Acid