AuthorBONHAUS, DOUGLAS WILLIAM.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractTaurine (2-aminoethane sulfonic acid) is one of the most abundant inhibitory amino acids in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Substantial evidence exists to suggest that this amino acid is a physiological modulator of neuronal excitability. Taurine is also a potent anticonvulsant in a variety of animal epilepsies and in certain human epileptics. The mechanisms of these neuromodulatory and anticonvulsant actions of taurine are not known. I have investigated a proposed relationship between altered amino acid metabolism, seizure-susceptibility and the anticonvulsant action of taurine. The findings of the work presented in this dissertation indicate that in the genetically seizure-susceptible rat there are alterations in the subcellular concentration and transport of taurine. Furthermore, the data presented here indicate that these alterations in the CNS handling of taurine are not a consequence of seizure activity but rather may be contributing to the seizure-susceptibility. This supports the hypothesis that taurine is a physiological modulator of neuronal excitability and that defects in this neuromodulatory process may contribute to seizure-susceptibility. The action of taurine was found to not be mediated by a redistribution of glutamate in the brain but instead may be by increasing the conversion of glutamate to GABA.