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This article is part of the supplement: Taurine – a wonder molecule. Proceedings of the 17th International Taurine Conference
Role of taurine in the central nervous system
Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA
Journal of Biomedical Science 2010, 17(Suppl 1):S1 doi:10.1186/1423-0127-17-S1-S1Published: 24 August 2010
Taurine demonstrates multiple cellular functions including a central role as a neurotransmitter, as a trophic factor in CNS development, in maintaining the structural integrity of the membrane, in regulating calcium transport and homeostasis, as an osmolyte, as a neuromodulator and as a neuroprotectant. The neurotransmitter properties of taurine are illustrated by its ability to elicit neuronal hyperpolarization, the presence of specific taurine synthesizing enzyme and receptors in the CNS and the presence of a taurine transporter system. Taurine exerts its neuroprotective functions against the glutamate induced excitotoxicity by reducing the glutamate-induced increase of intracellular calcium level, by shifting the ratio of Bcl-2 and Bad ratio in favor of cell survival and by reducing the ER stress. The presence of metabotropic taurine receptors which are negatively coupled to phospholipase C (PLC) signaling pathway through inhibitory G proteins is proposed, and the evidence supporting this notion is also presented.