Importance of taurine in maintaining retinal function

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Taurine depletion has been known to induce photoreceptor degeneration since the 70s. Recently, investigating the retinal toxicity of the antiepileptic drug, vigabatrin, we showed that taurine depletion causes retinal ganglion cell loss. Indeed, the primary site of vigabatrin-induced injury appears to be located in retinal ganglion cells in patients. The taurine depletion was demonstrated in both vigabatrin-treated animals and patients. In fact, an increase in intraocular pressure as in glaucoma could also induce a local retinal taurine depletion. Taurine supplementation was neuroprotective in 4 animal models with retinal ganglion cell loss. Taurine acts directly on retinal ganglion increasing their survival in pure cultures. Taurine also reduces their glutamate excitotoxicity in retinal explants. Therefore, taurine is required for the normal maintenance of photoreceptors but also for the maintenance of retinal ganglion cells. Taurine supplementation may therefore provide a novel neuroprotective strategy for retinal diseases like glaucoma.

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