Taurine deficiency may be a driver for aging, according to a new study, which evaluated the amino acid’s effect on health and longevity across several animal models. According to the authors, reversing age-associated taurine loss via supplementation improved the healthy lifespan in worms, rodents, and non-human primates – findings that warrant further human trials to examine taurine’s effect on healthy lifespan in humans and the potential risks involved. Taurine – a semi-essential micronutrient – is one of the most abundant amino acids in animals. Previous studies in several species have shown that taurine deficiency during early life causes functional impairments in skeletal muscle, eyes, and the nervous system in ways that are related to aging-associated disorders. Small clinical trials of taurine supplementation have suggested benefits in metabolic and inflammatory diseases, but the influence of taurine concentrations on animal health and longevity remains poorly understood. To better understand if and how taurine abundance influences healthy life span, Parminder Singh and colleagues measured blood taurine concentrations at different ages in mice, monkeys, and humans. Singh et al. discovered that in 15-year-old monkeys, serum taurine concentrations were 85% lower than in 5-year-old monkeys. Similarly, taurine levels decreased by more than 80% over the human life span. Declining taurine levels were also observed in aging mice and the authors found that mice lacking the major taurine transporter had shorter adult life spans. Reversal of this decline through taurine supplementation increased the median lifespan of worms and mice by 10 to 23% and 10 to 12%, respectively. Notably, in mice, orally administered taurine at 500 and 1000 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day was also associated with improvements in strength, coordination, and cognitive functions and slowed several key markers of aging, including cellular senescence, mitochondrial and DNA damage, and inflammageing. What’s more, Singh et al. also show that taurine supplementation in middle-aged rhesus macaques positively affected bone, metabolic, and immunological health.
Although the authors note that reversal of taurine deficiency during aging shows potential to be a promising anti-aging strategy, further research and human clinical trials are needed to see if taurine supplementation increases the healthy lifespan in humans. In a Perspective, Joseph McGaunn and Joseph Baur note that although few risks to taurine supplementation have been suggested, the potential for risks still warrants consideration because large, long-term human safety trials are lacking, and the equivalent doses used in the Singh et al. study would be very high in humans. “Thus, like any intervention, taurine supplementation with the aim of improving human health and longevity should be approached with caution,” write McGuann and Baur.
A related embargoed news briefing was held at 11:00 a.m. U.S. ET on Tuesday, 6 June, 2023, as a Zoom Webinar. Recordings of the briefing can be found here.
Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging
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