Taurine enhances the growth of neural precursors derived from fetal human brain and promotes neuronal specification

Dev Neurosci. 2013;35(1):40-9. doi: 10.1159/000346900. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Taurine is present at high concentrations in the fetal brain and is required for optimal brain development. Recent studies have reported that taurine causes increased proliferation of neural stem/progenitor neural cells (neural precursor cells, NPCs) obtained from embryonic and adult rodent brain. The present study is the first to show that taurine markedly increases cell numbers in cultures and neuronal generation from human NPCs (hNPCs). hNPCs obtained from 3 fetal brains (14-15 weeks of gestation) were cultured and expanded as neurospheres, which contained 76.3% nestin-positive cells. Taurine (5-20 mM) increased the number of hNPCs in culture, with maximal effect found at 10 mM and 4 days of culture. The taurine-induced increase ranged from 57 to 188% in the 3 brains examined. Taurine significantly enhanced the percentage of neurons formed from hNPCs under differentiating conditions, with increases ranging from 172 to 480% over controls without taurine. Taurine also increased the cell number and neuronal generation in cultures of the immortalized human cell line ReNcell VM. These results suggest that taurine has a positive influence on hNPC growth and neuronal formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / embryology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fetus
  • Humans
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Neurogenesis* / drug effects
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Taurine / pharmacology*


  • Taurine