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Taurine: Key to the visual toxicity of an anti-epileptic drug for children?
Date:2/17/2009

in the dark throughout the treatment.

Moreover, since previous work had shown that a deficiency of the organism in taurine (amino acid) triggers the degeneration of the photoreceptors (cells of the retina converting light into nervous signals), the researchers measured, in rodents, the plasma level of 19 amino acids. Whereas the concentration was identical for most of the amino acids in animals under vigabatrin and in non-treated rats, the taurine level turned out to be 67% lower in treated animals

Taurine is essentially contributed by diet. By providing certain of the animals under treatment with a taurine supplementation, the researchers noted that their visual acuity was greater than that of the animals without supplementation. In addition, the amino acid doses administered to six children subject to regular attacks of epilepsy and treated under vigabatrin reveal a taurine level that is far below the normal values reported for children of the same age and in some cases even undetectable.

On the strength of these various tests, the scientists were able to prove that vigabatrin induces a pronounced reduction of the taurine level in the plasma. This marked fall is responsible for the degeneration of the photoreceptors and thus for the retinal toxicity in the animals exposed to light.

Pending confirmation in the human of the interest of providing patients under vigabatrin with a taurine supplementation, the researchers propose immediate solutions designed to limit the secondary effects in these patients. "In the first instance, care should therefore be taken to ensure that patients under vigabatrin consume a sufficient amount of food containing taurine. It is also important that they should be exposed to as little light as possible (e.g.; no night lights in a baby's bedroom at night) and should be induced to wear sunglasses", says Serge Picaud.

The researchers also emphasise that any taurine supplementation must be subject t
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Contact: Priscille Riviere
presse@inserm.fr
INSERM (Institut national de la sant et de la recherche mdicale)
Source:Eurekalert

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