Energy drink ingredient 'Taurine' may extend life, shows promise in mice

If taurine is the "elixir of life" for humans can only be determined following rigorous clinical research.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Representational image
Representational image


The scientific community has been on a hunt for strategies to halt human aging.

And we may have discovered a new potential biological marker, as per a new study.

Taurine, commonly found in energy-boosting drinks and supplements, may be essential to extending life. 

This finding has only been confirmed in animal models, but experts believe it is worthwhile to investigate in humans. 

Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid, and its level tends to decrease with age in various species, including humans. This micronutrient is abundant in the brain, eyes, heart, and muscles. 

Testing on the animal models 

The team tracked down taurine by examining various blood molecules of different animals (aged and young). According to the researchers, taurine levels in older animals were much lower — roughly 80 percent lower compared to young ones. Following this investigation, the researchers focused on its involvement in aging by conducting a series of studies on animals, including worms, mice, and primates. 

Columbia University in New York researchers conducted trials on 14-month-old mice, roughly the equivalent of human age 45.

These animals were given a daily dosage of taurine, with some put in a placebo group. 

The findings revealed that middle-aged female mice witnessed a 12 percent increase in lifespan when compared to those that did not get taurine dosages. Male mice lived around 10 percent longer than female mice. All of those who got taurine reported better health and seemed younger. In addition, taurine supplementation decreased DNA damage in old animals. 

At the molecular level, the presence of taurine likely helps to slow the aging process by preventing the telomeres from shortening (compounds that govern how our cells age). 

Human trials are required  

Similar experiments were conducted on worms and rhesus monkeys. 

The taurine-supplemented worms witnessed a 10-23 percent increase in longevity when given to 15-year-old rhesus monkeys for six months and showed benefits in body weight, bone, blood sugar levels, and the immune system. 

Although human trials for taurine have yet to be done, the researchers did a preliminary examination of taurine levels in the blood of 12,000 persons. They discovered that those with higher taurine levels in their blood showcased better health conditions.

If the findings from this study on mouse life expectancy are extrapolated to humans, taurine may increase the life years of elderly individuals by about seven to eight years. 

However, if taurine is the "elixir of life" for humans can only be determined following rigorous clinical research. And the team advises individuals not to rely excessively on taurine supplements and medicines to extend their lives.

The results have been published today in Science

Study abstract:

Aging is an inevitable multifactorial process. Aging-related changes manifest as the “hallmarks of aging,” cause organ functions to decline, and increase the risk of disease and death. Aging is associated with systemic changes in the concentrations of molecules such as metabolites. However, whether such changes are merely the consequence of aging or whether these molecules are drivers of aging remains largely unexplored. If these were blood-based drivers of aging, then restoring their concentration or functions to “youthful” levels could serve as an antiaging intervention.

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