Journal of leukocyte biology

Taurine and hypotaurine content of human leukocytes.

PMID 2370482


Taurine (T) was reported to be at high concentrations in human leukocytes. It was proposed that T is a scavenger for chlorinated oxidants produced by the myeloperoxidase system of monocytes and neutrophils. Hypotaurine (HT) would be a more effective scavenger, and HT could also detoxify products of bromide or iodide oxidation produced by the eosinophil peroxidase system. Methods previously used to measure T in leukocytes might oxidize HT to T or fail to separate T and HT. Therefore, we examined T and HT content, uptake, and biosynthesis in isolated blood cells and cultured tumor cells derived from hematopoietic/lymphoid cells. Platelets and all leukocytes including monocytes, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and eosinophils had high T levels (10-20 mM), and all except eosinophils had substantial HT levels (0.3-1 mM). Intracellular levels were 500-times higher than in plasma. Erythrocytes were the only blood cells with low levels of both T and HT. Tumor cells from lymphoid (CCRF-CEM) and myeloid (HL-60, K-562, RWLeu4, HEL) lineages took up and concentrated T and HT from the bovine calf serum in the culture medium, and intracellular levels were similar to those in leukocytes. When cells were cultured in HT-supplemented media, HT almost completely replaced T, and HT was not converted to T. Levels of T were not raised by culturing cells with possible precursors, but HT levels were raised when cysteine sulfinic acid was present. Washed tumor cells took up T and HT by way of a beta-amino acid transport system, but uptake by leukocytes was very low. Therefore, leukocytes may acquire T and HT by active uptake rather than biosynthesis, and uptake may be completed during differentiation in the bone marrow. Though HT is low relative to T, HT levels may be sufficient to protect leukocytes from toxic oxidants.