Important news about the amino acid Taurine and blood pressure.  Cardiovascular health in men may be improved by the amino acid taurine, which may help lower blood pressure. Taurine is important for modulating cardiovascular function because it acts within the brain, affecting neurotransmitter receptor sites, as well as within peripheral tissues.

At the Center for Developmental Neuroscience at the City University of New York Graduate School, AE Idrissi, E Okeke, et al., did a study on male rats where IV injection of taurine caused tachycardia as well as hypotension. The Long-Evans control rats were freely moving, and a mere single injection of the amino acid taurine “significantly lowered the systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressure.”

Aortic rings in the heart triggered GABA receptors by circulating GABA or taurine

In the study  it was taurine that was confirmed for its vasoactive properties using isolated preparations of the aortic rings. The pharmacological agents produced measurable mechanical responses of the aortic rings; it was found that the taurine caused an activated tonic-like effect of GABA-A receptors when either GABA or taurine were circulated.

This came as no surprise since previously it had been shown that taurine does indeed activate GABA-A receptors in the brain, which produces an apparent physiological response implying that “GABA(A)receptor activation is the relaxation of the arterial muscularis, vasodilation, and [causes] a decrease in blood pressure.”

Taurine has different effects on blood pressure depending on dosage… and gender!

This is where the study became interesting! There was evidently a difference between small steady doses of amino acid taurine supplementation (0.05% for four weeks) when taurine was put into the drinking water… it actually caused significant hypertension, which means that blood pressure actually increased, not decreased!  However, this effect was only witnessed in the female rats; according to the study: “males supplemented with taurine did not show an increase in systolic, diastolic, or mean arterial pressure.” Interestingly, both genders showed taurine administration still caused significant tachycardia, so it was suggested that the acute (a higher dose all at once) supplementation of taurine still had the health benefit of lowering their blood pressure overall. Only in females did it raise the blood pressure.

The limits are that no study was done on taurine administration to hypertensive rats. Also, there is no proof that what happens in rats will carry over to humans, but that taurine does indeed affect GABA-A receptors is well known, so more research needs to be done about the connection between taurine and blood pressure in humans. As always, be sure to discuss any supplementation of taurine or other amino acids with your doctor first.

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Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23392950