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We hypothesised that nutritional taurine, which is important for the development of the endocrine pancreas and reduces cytokine-induced apoptosis in pancreatic beta cells, would prevent or delay the onset of autoimmune diabetes, if given early in life to the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse.Pregnant NOD mice received a diet supplemented with taurine throughout gestation or until weaning, and the pancreas of the offspring was examined using immunohistochemistry. This was done at postnatal day 14 and after 8 weeks (assessment of insulitis). The animals were also monitored until they became diabetic.At 14 days, pancreatic islet mass was significantly greater in animals treated with taurine than in controls. This finding was associated with a greater incidence of islet cell proliferation and a lower incidence of apoptosis. At age 8 weeks the number of islets manifesting insulitis was reduced by more than half, and the area of insulitis was reduced by 90%. Taurine treatment delayed the mean onset time of diabetes from 18 to 30 weeks in females, and from 30 to 38 weeks in males, while 20% of treated females remained free of diabetes after one year.Taurine supplementation in early life altered islet development, reduced insulitis and delayed the onset of diabetes in NOD mice.