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February 1975

Hereditary Mental Depression and Parkinsonism With Taurine Deficiency

Arch Neurol. 1975;32(2):108-113. doi:10.1001/archneur.1975.00490440058009

An unusual neuropsychiatric disorder inherited in autosomal dominant fashion occurred in three successive generations of a family. Symptoms commenced late in the fifth decade in six affected patients and led to death in four to six years. The earliest and most prominent symptom was mental depression not responsive to antidepressant drugs or electroconvulsive therapy. This was accompanied by exhaustion, sleep disturbances, and marked weight loss. Later in the disease, symptoms of parkinsonism appeared, and respiratory failure occurred terminally.

The most recently affected family member was investigated biochemically late in his illness. Concentrations of taurine were greatly diminished in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid, and at autopsy, all regions of brain examined had a markedly reduced taurine content. Since taurine is a putative inhibitory synaptic transmitter, deficiency of brain taurine may possibly have caused the psychiatric and neurological manifestations of this disorder.