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Taurine supplementation and diabetes mellitus

Franconi, Flaviaa; Loizzo, Albertob; Ghirlanda, Giovannic; Seghieri, Giusepped

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: January 2006 - Volume 9 - Issue 1 - p 32–36
doi: 10.1097/01.mco.0000196141.65362.46
Protein and amino acid metabolism: obituary

Purpose of review Taurine is a semi-essential sulphur amino acid derived from methionine and cysteine metabolism. It has been evaluated either in experimental or clinical type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. One form of experiment has included the possibility that perinatal taurine administration could prevent diabetes mellitus and/or insulin resistance.

Recent findings Experimental data suggest strongly that taurine could have beneficial effects in type 1 diabetes mellitus, and could generally reduce organ lipid peroxidation and plasma lipids. Interestingly, retina, lens and nerves seem to respond better to taurine than other organs such as kidneys. It has been shown in some experimental models that in type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance there is alteration in taurine homeostasis. Taurine could prevent the onset of diabetes mellitus in NOD mice and postnatal taurine modifies the glucose-loading curves in adults. However, the clinical studies are too small and too short to have any real significance.

Summary Further experimental and clinical studies are required to evaluate taurine's possible therapeutic potential. Careful attention has to be paid in the selection of animal species, in standardization of taurine concentrations and patient selection. Moreover, care must also be given to the metabolic state, presence of complications, duration of supplementations and selection of the right end-points.

aCentre for Biotechnology Development and Biodiversity Research and Department of Pharmacology, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy

bNational Institute of Health, Rome, Italy

cDepartment of Internal and Geriatric Medicine, Catholic University, Rome, Italy

dPistoia Hospital, Pistoia, Italy

Correspondence to Flavia Franconi, Department of Pharmacology, Via Muroni 23a, 07100 Sassari, Italy Tel: +39 079228717; fax: +39 079228715; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.