Iron cardiomyopathy is a lethal complication of transfusion therapy in thalassemia major. Nutritional supplements decreasing cardiac iron uptake or toxicity would have clinical significance. Murine studies suggest taurine may prevent oxidative damage and inhibit Ca2+-channel-mediated iron transport. We hypothesized that taurine supplementation would decrease cardiac iron-overloaded toxicity by decreasing cardiac iron. Vitamin E and selenium served as antioxidant control.
Animals were divided into control, iron, taurine, and vitamin E/selenium groups. Following sacrifice, iron and selenium measurements, histology, and biochemical analyses were performed.
No significant differences were found in heart and liver iron content between treatment groups, except for higher hepatic dry-weight iron concentrations in taurine-treated animals (p < 0.03). Serum iron increased with iron loading (751 ± 66 vs. 251 ± 54 μg/dl, p < 0.001) and with taurine (903 ± 136 μg/dl, p = 0.03).
Consistent with oxidative stress, iron overload increased cardiac malondialdehyde levels, decreased heart glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity, and increased serum aspartate aminotransferase. Taurine ameliorated these changes, but only significantly for liver GPx activity. Selenium and vitamin E supplementation did not improve oxidative markers and worsened cardiac GPx activity. These results suggest that taurine acts primarily as an antioxidant rather than inhibiting iron uptake. Future studies should illuminate the complexity of these results.