Taurine (TAU) is thought to be a neuromodulator or an inhibitory neurotrans-mitter in the mammalian brain. In the periphery, TAU is involved in a wide spectrum of physiological functions. One of the most important putative physiological function of TAU is the modulation of cardiovascular activity including blood pressure control. TAU also appears to be important for the development of an organism, especially early central nervous system development. Regional TAU content was measured in brains of adult (6-month) and aged (23- to 26-month) Fischer-344 (F-344) male rats. To assess the putative neurotransmit-ter role of TAU, release due to potassium depolarization was studied using slices from frontal cortex of F-344 rats. Circulating levels of TAU were also determined in male F-344 rats (6 and 24 months of age) and female Long-Evans rats (LE, 6 and 30 months old). We found no age-related change in TAU stores from the brain regions examined, nor did we find any indication of TAU release due to potassium depolarization in the release paradigm utilized. There was, however, a significant reduction (28 and 42%) in plasma TAU concentration in F-344 and LE rats, respectively. This age-related reduction in plasma TAU may have important consequences both peripherally and centrally with respect to regulation of blood pressure, cardiovascular function, and cardioprotection, as well as possible CNS complications.

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