A role for taurine in mitochondrial function

J Biomed Sci. 2010 Aug 24;17 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S23. doi: 10.1186/1423-0127-17-S1-S23.


The mitochondrial pH gradient across the inner-membrane is stabilised by buffering of the matrix. A low-molecular mass buffer compound has to be localised in the matrix to maintain its alkaline pH value. Taurine is found ubiquitously in animal cells with concentrations in the millimolar range and its pKa value is determined to 9.0 (25 degrees C) and 8.6 (37 degrees C), respectively. Localisation of such a low-molecular buffer in the mitochondrial matrix, transforms the matrix into a biochemical reaction chamber for the important matrix-localised enzyme systems. Three acyl-CoA dehydrogenase enzymes, which are pivotal for beta-oxidation of fatty acids, are demonstrated to have optimal activity in a taurine buffer. By application of the model presented, taurine depletion caused by hyperglycemia could provide a link between mitochondrial dysfunction and diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Buffers
  • Cell Respiration
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Taurine / chemistry
  • Taurine / metabolism*


  • Buffers
  • Taurine
  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenases