Spice up your heart health: Taurine and black pepper combo shows promising cardioprotective effects

An increased intake of a Western diet, comprising high proportions of saturated fats, sugar, and salt, along with sedentary lifestyles, has augmented the global burden of cardiovascular events. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death worldwide. In 2019, an estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs, accounting for 32% of all global deaths. 85 percent of these deaths were caused by a heart attack or a stroke.

For many centuries, natural products have been used for the treatment of many diseases. Recently, taurine and black pepper have gained much attention due to their cardioprotective effects, based on anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, antioxidative, and anti-atherosclerotic properties.

Recently, scientists reviewed the existing literature to understand whether a combination of taurine and black pepper extract is effective in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors. This review is available in the journal Nutrients.

Study: Combination of Taurine and Black Pepper Extract as a Treatment for Cardiovascular and Coronary Artery Diseases.Image Credit: Lerkrat Tangsri / ShutterstockStudy: Combination of Taurine and Black Pepper Extract as a Treatment for Cardiovascular and Coronary Artery Diseases.Image Credit: Lerkrat Tangsri / Shutterstock

Cardiovascular Events and Alternative Treatments

Cardiovascular diseases are associated with multiple conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that CVDs will contribute to over 22 million deaths annually by 2030. Multiple diseases are categorized under CVDs, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure (HF), stroke, myocardial infarction (MI), and coronary artery disease (CAD). Some of the factors that enhance the risk of CVDs are hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy), cholesterol, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type-2 diabetes.

Common phenotypes in the pathogenesis of CVDs are endothelial dysfunction, hyper-inflammation, hyperlipidemia, and oxidative stress. These are the primary targets for therapeutic intervention to prevent or alleviate CVDs. Even though conventional treatments for CVDs are effective, they have been associated with many side effects. Therefore, natural products with medicinal properties are attractive alternatives for CVD treatment.

Taurine and Black Peppers

Taurine is a non-toxic natural product abundantly found in human cardiac and vascular tissues. This semi-essential sulfur-containing amino acid is synthesized endogenously from cysteine and methionine. However, the majority of taurine is obtained through the consumption of seafood, eggs, meat, and poultry. In humans, taurine has diverse physiological functions, including protection against many pathophysiological conditions.

Several studies have indicated that taurine has anti-oxidation, membrane stabilization, anti-hyperlipidemia, anti-platelet, and anti-inflammatory activities. In addition, it can also modulate ion transporters, blood pressure, and vascular tone.

Black Peppers (Piper nigrum) is commonly used to treat many diseases due to the presence of high levels of terpenes or terpenoids. These bioactive compounds are a diverse class of organic compounds commonly present in plant-based essential oils. Terpenes constitute over 30,000 compounds whose functional groups include aldehydes, alcohols, and ketones.

Black pepper consists of high levels of β-caryophyllene (BCP), limonene, α-humulene, sabinene, α-pinene, and β-pinene. BCP activates cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2R), which triggers downstream signaling pathways, and subsequently promotes anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative properties. Cardiovascular-protective effects of black pepper against a wide range of CVDs are attributed to its antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperlipidemia, and blood pressure-lowering abilities.

The Effectiveness of Combinational Therapeutic Activity of Taurine and Black Peppers Extracts on Cardiovascular Diseases

Several studies have indicated that acute and chronic inflammation plays a crucial role in the progression and severity of CVDs. Chronic inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis, CAD, and hypertension, are characterized by elevated expression of important pro-inflammatory receptors (e.g., the receptor for advanced glycation end-products-RAGE and toll-like receptors-TLR). In addition, acute inflammation is also associated with elevated levels of high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB-1), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), nitric oxide (NO), and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2).

Inhibition or downregulation of these factors is a potential therapeutic target for CVDs. Bioactive compounds present in taurine and black pepper significantly alleviate the expression of the pro-inflammatory mediators to reduce the severity of inflammation-mediated injury.

As stated above, oxidative stress is another important factor associated with the progression of CVDs. It causes upregulation of inflammation, lipid peroxidation, and endothelial dysfunction in various CVDs. Previous research has shown that black pepper terpenes and taurine can augment cell viability and restore mitochondrial function. This can, in turn, improve antioxidant balance.

Free radical scavenging assays have demonstrated antioxidant activity of α-pinene, BCP, β-pinene, and limonene. Taurine increases the expression of antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), which can inhibit inflammation. Therefore, SOD is considered to be a protective antioxidant in CVDs. Black pepper terpenes produce cell-protective antioxidant activity by increasing glutathione peroxidase (GPx1), catalase (CAT), and SOD. These are key targets used to prevent CVDs.

Taurine reacts with hypochlorous acid to synthesize a less reactive and toxic compound, TauCl, which protects cells in response to oxidative stress. TauCl also acts as an anti-inflammatory modulator, restricting the production of pro-inflammatory factors. Notably, TauCl improves vascular health and prevents the progression of atherosclerosis. The current study observed that dual treatment of taurine and black pepper terpenes could exert synergistic antioxidant and oxidative-protective effects, which will help prevent oxidative damage in cardiovascular aetiologies and other oxidative diseases.

Journal reference:
Dr. Priyom Bose

Written by

Dr. Priyom Bose

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.

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