The aim of this study was to examine the central action of taurine on body temperature and food intake in neonatal chicks under control thermoneutral temperature (CT) and high ambient temperature (HT). Intracerebroventricular injection of taurine caused dose-dependent hypothermia and reduced food intake under CT. The mRNA expression of the GABAA receptors, GABAAR-α1 and GABAAR-γ, but not that of GABABR, significantly decreased in the diencephalon after central injection of taurine. Subsequently, we found that picrotoxin, a GABAAR antagonist, attenuated taurine-induced hypothermia. Central taurine significantly decreased the brain concentrations of 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol, a major metabolite of norepinephrine; however, the concentrations of serotonin, dopamine, and the epinephrine metabolites, 3,4-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and homovanillic acid, were unchanged. Although hypothermia was not observed under HT after central injection of taurine, plasma glucose and uric acid levels were higher, and plasma sodium and calcium levels were lower, than those in chicks under CT. In conclusion, brain taurine may play a role in regulating body temperature and food intake in chicks through GABAAR. The changes in plasma metabolites under heat stress suggest that brain taurine may play an important role in maintaining homeostasis in chicks.
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