Taurine improves learning and retention in aged mice

Neurosci Lett. 2008 May 2;436(1):19-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2008.02.070. Epub 2008 Mar 7.


Aging of the brain is characterized by several neurochemical modifications involving structural proteins, neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and related receptors. Alterations of neurochemical indices of synaptic function have been considered as indicators of age-related impairment of central functions, such as locomotion, memory and sensory performances. Several studies demonstrated that GABA receptors, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65&67), and different subpopulations of GABAergic neurons are markedly decreased in experimental animal brains during aging. Thus, the age-related decline in cognitive functions could be attributable, at least in part, to decrements in GABA inhibitory neurotransmission. In this study, using a passive avoidance test, we show that chronic supplementation of taurine to aged mice significantly ameliorates the age-dependent decline in memory acquisition and retention. We have previously shown that taurine supplementation caused changes in the GABAergic system. These changes include increased levels of the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate, increased expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase and the neuropeptide somatostatin and increase in the number of somatostatin-positive neurons. These specific alterations of the inhibitory system caused by taurine treatment oppose those naturally occurring in aging, and suggest a protective role of taurine against the normal aging process. Increased understanding of age-related neurochemical changes in the GABAergic system will be important in elucidating the underpinnings of the functional changes of aging. Taurine might help forestall the age-related decline in cognitive functions through alterations of the GABAergic system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Learning / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, GABA / drug effects
  • Receptors, GABA / metabolism
  • Retention, Psychology / drug effects*
  • Taurine / administration & dosage*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / drug effects
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Receptors, GABA
  • Taurine
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid