Feline maternal taurine deficiency: effect on mother and offspring

J Nutr. 1986 Apr;116(4):655-67. doi: 10.1093/jn/116.4.655.


Adult female cats were fed a defined purified diet (taurine-free) either alone or supplemented with 0.05% taurine for at least 6 mo prior to breeding. The reproductive performance by the taurine-depleted females was poor, whereas those receiving dietary taurine had normal pregnancies and deliveries. The taurine-depleted females suffered from severe retinal degeneration, including a large loss of photoreceptor outer segments, and degeneration of the tapetum lucidum, and greatly reduced concentrations of taurine in their body tissues and fluids. Surviving offspring from the taurine-depleted mothers exhibited a number of neurological abnormalities and substantially reduced concentrations of taurine in the body tissues and fluids. Except for greater concentrations of cystathionine in neural tissues, other free amino acids in tissues were unaffected. The specific activities of a number of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of taurine were unchanged in liver and brain. The composition of maternal milk, total protein, protein amino acids and free amino acids was unchanged except for taurine content, suggesting that the abnormalities in the offspring resulted from the diminished dietary taurine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Carboxy-Lyases / metabolism
  • Cats / embryology
  • Cats / metabolism*
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / metabolism
  • Cystathionine gamma-Lyase / metabolism
  • Cysteine Dioxygenase
  • Dioxygenases*
  • Eye / drug effects
  • Eye / pathology
  • Eye / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Milk Proteins / metabolism
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / metabolism*
  • Taurine / deficiency*
  • Taurine / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Milk Proteins
  • Taurine
  • Oxygenases
  • Dioxygenases
  • Cysteine Dioxygenase
  • Carboxy-Lyases
  • sulfoalanine decarboxylase
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase
  • Cystathionine gamma-Lyase