Taurine: evidence of physiological function in the retina

Nutr Neurosci. 2002 Apr;5(2):75-90. doi: 10.1080/10284150290018991.


Taurine is a free amino acid found in high millimolar concentrations in mammalian tissue and is particularly abundant in the retina. Mammals synthesize taurine endogenously with varying abilities, with some species more dependent on dietary sources of taurine than others. Human children appear to be more dependent on dietary taurine than adults. Specifically, it has been established that visual dysfunction in both human and animal subjects results from taurine deficiency. Moreover, the deficiency is reversed with simple nutritional supplementation with taurine. The data suggest that taurine is an important neurochemical factor in the visual system. However, the exact function or functions of taurine in the retina are still unresolved despite continuing scientific study. Nevertheless, the importance of taurine in the retina is implied in the following experimental findings: (1) Taurine exhibits significant effects on biochemical systems in vitro. (2) The distribution of taurine is tightly regulated in the different retinal cell types through the development of the retina. (3) Taurine depletion results in significant retinal lesions. (4) Taurine release and uptake has been found to employ distinct regulatory mechanisms in the retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Taurine / deficiency
  • Taurine / pharmacology
  • Taurine / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vision, Ocular


  • Phosphoproteins
  • Taurine
  • Calcium