The world's scientific and social network for malaria professionals
9430 malaria professionals are enjoying the free benefits of MalariaWorld today

The underestimated role of taurine

August 14, 2017 - 06:18 -- Pierre Lutgen

                                                                           Or why cats and dogs are malariafree.

Taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, is the most abundant amino acid in mammals, occurring both in cells and in blood plasma. High concentrations of taurine are found in the heart, retina, bile, brain, plasma, platelets, leucocytes, whereas smaller amounts are found in liver, erythrocytes, muscles, kidney.

        Cécile Petton. La taurine: point sur ses propriétés et son utilization en 2011. Thèse de doctorat. Université dde Nantes 2011.

Taurine may protect cells against various types of injury. It increases intestinal fat absorption, hepatic function and neurodevelopment. It plays an important role in vascular functions. It is efficient against cardiac arrhythmias.

        Tan B, Jiang DJ, Huang H, Jia SJ, Jiang JL, Hu CP, Li YJ. Taurine protects against low-density lipoprotein-induced endothelial dysfunction. Vascul Pharmacol. 2007 May;46(5):338-45.

        Eby G, Halcomb WW. Elimination of cardiac arrhythmias using oral taurine with l-arginine. Med Hypotheses, 2006, 67, 1200-4

It is particularly important for neonates and infants.

        Verner A, Craig S, McGuire W. Effect of taurine supplementation on growth and development in preterm and low birth weight in infants. Cochrane Neonatal reviews 2007.

Taurine is absent in plants, but well present in meat, eggs, milk, fish

- Beef, ground: 430 mg/kg

- Beef, liver: 688

- Chicken, raw: 159

- Clams, fresh: 2 400

- Herring: 1 540

- Eggs: 300

- Cow’s milk: 50

- Formula milk: 30

- Human milk: 358

- Human colostrum: 450

       AR Spitze, DL Wong, QR Rogers, AJ Fascetti. Taurine concentrations in animal feed ingredients. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr 2003, 251-262 HF Erbersdobler, E Trautwein, H Greulich, Determination of taurine in milk and infant formula, Europ j Pediatrics, 1984, 142, 2, 133-134 Kim ES, Kim JS, Tamari Y. Quantitation of taurine and selenium levels in human milk. Adv Exp Med Biol 1998 442 477-486.

Taurine is absent from plants, but some plants contain minor quantities of cystine and methionine, two other sulfur containing amino acids which can be metabolized into taurine.

       AV Ochkur, AM Koraleva, Ya Kolesnik. Amino-acid composition of subgenus Artemisia herbs. Chemistry of natural compounds , 2013, 49,3, 589

There is evidence that increased availability of taurine enhances the proportion of taurine-conjugated bile acids in bile in replacement of glycine conjugated bile acid.

       S. Bellentani, M. Pecorari, P. Cordoma, Taurine increases bile acid pool size. Chair of Gastroenterology, University of Modena, Italy. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology

Glycine is found in high amounts in gelatin, a substance made from collagen. Gelatin in Artemisia capsules could thus interfer with the metabolism and bioavaiability of active constituents of the plant. Glycine can be generated de novo by Plasmodium and is sometimes used in Plasmodium cultures.

       Stanley C Oaks Jr, Malaria, obstacles and opportunities, Institute of Medicine 1991, ISBN 0-309-04527-4

Gelatin is hygroscopic and contains high amounts of moisture, up to 15% and this may hamper the stability of dried leaf powder capsules. It also contains high amounts of arginine, up to 8%. As arginine has antimalarial properties this may be beneficial in the use of capsules.

       C Graham. H Waitkoff, S Hier. The amino acid content of some scleroproteins. J Biol Chem 1949, 177, 529-532.

Taurine interfers with fat absorption and metabolism. Eleven children receiving supplementation with taurine (30–40 mg/kg/day) for 2 months, saw their coefficient of fat absorption significantly increased. It is likely that a similar enhancement in absorption of lipophilic drugs can be expected by a change from glycine to taurine conjugated bile acid. Taurine also reduces cholesterol in plasma. Cholesterol is a preferred food for Plasmodium.

       C. Colombo, S. Arlati, L. Curcio, R. Maiavacca, M. Garatti, M. Ronchi, Effect of Taurine Supplementation on Fat and Bile Acid Absorption Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Volume 23, 1988 - Issue sup143 Pages 151-156 http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/00365528809090237 Okamoto E, Rassin DK, Zucker CL, Salen GS, Role of taurine in feeding low-birth weight infant. J Pediatrics, 1984, 104, 36-40

Taurine strengthens the immune system.

      CG Iruloh, PF Speake, JD Glazier, Taurine transporter in fetal T lymphocytes and platelets: differential expression and functional activity: Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 2007 292, C332-C341

Their graph reflects the results of a trial on forty participants receiving 2 g of taurine per day.

      M Islambulchilar, I Asvadi, Z Sanaat, M Sattari. Effect of Taurine on febrile episodes. Adv Pharmaceut Bull. 2015, 5, 103-108

Taurine reaches up to 50 mM concentration in leukocytes

      Schuller-Levis GB1, Park E. Taurine and its chloramine: modulators of immunity. Neurochem Res. 2004 Jan;29(1):117-26..

This is in line with the work of P Ogwang who found that regular tea consumption increased the number of monocytes

      Patrick E. Ogwang, Jasper O. Ogwal, Simon Kasasa. Use of Artemisia annua L. Infusion for Malaria Prevention: Mode of Action and Benefits in a Ugandan Community . British Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 1(4): 124-132, 2011

Taurine has antimalarial properties. In mice, the circulating taurine is around 550 µmol/liter. If this concentration falls below 200 Plasmodium chabaudi infected mice develop a 60% higher parasitemia and liver injuries. The survival rate was much lower in mice with low taurine levels. Taurine homeostatis appears to be essential in this mammal for resistance to malaria.

      D Delic, U Warskulat, E Borsch, F Wunderlich. Loss of ability to self-heal malaria upon taurine transporter deletion. Jürgen Krücken, Liv I. Mehnert, Mohamed A. Dkhil, Manal El-Khadragy, W. Peter M. Benten, Horst Mossmann, and Frank Wunderlich. Massive Destruction of Malaria-Parasitized Red Blood Cells despite Spleen Closure. Infect Immun. 2005 Oct; 73(10): 6390–6398. doi: 10.1128/IAI.73.10.6390-6398.2005

Taurine, and the two other sulfur amino acids, generate hydrogen sulfide in the large intestine. A controlled feeding study on humans has confirmed this.

      EA Magee, CJ Richardson, R Hughes, J Cummings. Contribution of dietary protein to sulfide production in the large intestine. Am J Clin Nutr 2000, 72 1488-94.

H₂S has the reputation to be a toxic gas. But at low concentrations it has beneficial health effects and cures several diseases. Most of the balneary tradition is based on the presence of hydrogen sulfide in some mineral waters. The effect may be related to the precipitation of excess iron in the form of insoluble FeS.

      F Kieffer, Wie Eisen und andere Spurenelemente die memschliche Gesundheit beeinflussen. Mitteilungen Gebiete Lebensmittel Hygiene, 1993, 84, 48-87 S Giampaoli, F Valeriani, V Romano Spica. Hydrogen sulfide in thermal spring waters and its action on bacteria of human origin. Microchemical J. 2013, 108, 210-214.

In mammalian cells, there is an endogenous production of H₂S. It is located in iron-sulfur clusters in the mitochondriaand readily released when needed. In other words, hydrogen sulfide binds the excess of iron which is detrimental diseases, but renders it available when needed. H₂S interacts with NO and this explains why arginine may be synergistic with arginine against malaria. Both molecules have the unique ability of free diffusion through cell membranes without the need of specific membrane receptors.

     . BV Nagpure, JS Bian, Interaction of hydrogen sulfide with nitric oxide in the cardiovascular system. Oxidative Meedicine aand Cellular Longevity, 2016 Article ID 6904327.

Recently it has been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo that hydrogen sulfide and sulfur compounds can have an antiplasmodial effect of the same level as artesunate.

      B DellaValle, T Stalsoe, C Hempel, Investigation of hydrogen sulfide gas as a treatment aagainst P falciparum and murine malaria. PlosONE, 2013, 8, 3, e59271

The fact that breastfed infants stay free of malaria during 6 months is an argument supporting the role of the high taurine content in human milk. Upon infection by Plasmodium, the time course for the uptake into malaria-infected erythrocytes of taurine is strongly enhanced. In vitro, an intracellular concentration similar to the extracellular concentration is reached approximately within 10 minutes. By contrast, there is little if any uptake of taurine by uninfected human erythrocytes over the same period.

       K Kirk, HM Staines, K Saliba.Transport and trafficking in the malaria infected erythrocyte, Symposium Novartis London 1997 ISBN 0-471-99893-1.

In light of all this, because of their ketogenic diet rich in meat and rich in taurine, cats and dogs are efficiently protected against malaria. Dietary supplements of methionine or cystine, precursors of taurine, failed to satisfy the taurine requirement for bile acids in kittens

       Rabin B, Nicolosi RJ, Hayes KC. Dietary influence on bile acid conjugation in the cat. J Nutr. 1976 Sep;106(9):1241-6.

In humans, the cysteine and methionine metabolism may be different but a diet exclusively based on plant intake may open the door for severe malaria infections. Undernourished African children are less susceptible to malaria infection. But, the moment that the malaria victim receives anew a high carb diet, the malaria parasite seizes the opportunity to multiply. Probably, a low-carb, high-fat diet would greatly reduce the risk of malaria. A pure ketogenic diet (meat, eggs, milk) makes it difficult for the parasite to obtain adequate glucose. If a person can afford no other treatment, perhaps fasting could potentially act as a cheap cure.