Can taurine supplementation help treat long Covid?

October 27, 2023

Toronto, Oct 27 (AGENCY):

Canadian researchers have identified an amino acid that may play a key role in predicting poor clinical outcomes and also aid in the treatment of long Covid.

The study, published in Cell Reports Medicine, showed that lower levels of taurine -- a semi-essential amino acid found in meat and fish and also produced by the human liver -- could predict long Covid conditions. 

Also taurine supplementations, which is already approved, helped treat the symptoms.

“Patients with lower levels of taurine had a lot more symptoms, more of them were hospitalised and there was an increased risk for mortality,” said principal investigator Gaviin Oudit, professor of medicine at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

“Patients that had high levels of taurine and maintained high levels of taurine in their blood had much fewer ongoing symptoms and did better," Oudit added.

The team developed a predictive test to analysed Covid patients’ blood for changes in proteins and metabolites, as well as signs of inflammation. 

Of the 117 patients, 55 went on to develop severe post-Covid condition, or long Covid, with three or more longer-term symptoms.

Using machine learning they developed a predictive model composed of 20 molecules. They found their model predicted adverse clinical outcomes following discharge from acute infection with 83 per cent accuracy.

The most striking difference the researchers found among patients was in their plasma levels of the amino acid taurine.

Taurine is known to help regulate several physiological functions including the immune system. 

Further study of the impact of taurine supplementation in humans is needed, Oudit said, but existing small studies show no harmful side-effects and suggest there may be positive effects such as lowered blood pressure, improved cognition and gastrointestinal benefits.

“We are now moving to initiate a Phase 3 clinical trial of taurine supplementation in patients with Covid-19 to test whether we can minimise manifestations of long Covid down the road,” said Oudit, noting that Phase 3 trials are designed to determine whether the already-approved product provides benefit to a particular population.

Oudit is hopeful taurine will prove to have multisystem effects that would be of benefit to people experiencing a range of long Covid symptoms. In the meantime, he advises patience.

“Patients should not go out and start consuming taurine in high levels to help with long Covid," he said.

“Taurine supplements are relatively safe, but we need to get that evidence from a clinical trial. 



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