The effects of aniso-osmotic exposure on taurine transport were studied in H4IIE rat hepatoma cells. Hyperosmotic (405 mosmol/l) exposure of H4IIE cells stimulated Na+-dependent taurine uptake and led to an increase in taurine transporter (TAUT) mRNA levels, whereas hypo-osmotic (205 mosmol/l) exposure diminished both taurine uptake and TAUT mRNA levels when compared with normo-osmotic (305 mosmol/l) control incubations. Taurine uptake increased 30Ő40-fold upon raising the ambient osmolarity from 205 to 405 mosmol/l. When H4IIE cells and perfused livers were preloaded with taurine, hypo-osmotic cell swelling led to a rapid release of taurine from the cells. The taurine efflux, but not taurine uptake, was sensitive to 4,4ƀ-di-isothiocyanatostilbene-2,2ƀ-disulphonic acid (DIDS), suggestive of an involvement of DIDS-sensitive channels in mediating volume-regulatory taurine efflux. Whereas in both H4IIE rat hepatoma cells and primary hepatocytes TAUT mRNA levels were strongly dependent upon ambient osmolarity, mRNAs for other osmolyte transporters, i.e. the betaine transporter BGT-1 and the Na+/myo-inositol transporter SMIT, were not detectable. In line with this, myo-inositol uptake by H4IIE hepatoma cells was low and was not stimulated by hyperosmolarity. However, despite the absence of BGT-1 mRNA, a slight osmosensitive uptake of betaine was observed, but the rate was less than 10% of that of taurine transport. This study identifies a constitutively expressed and osmosensitive TAUT in H4IIE cells and the use of taurine as a main osmolyte, whereas betaine and myo-inositol play little or no role in the osmolyte strategy in these cells. This is in contrast with rat liver macrophages, in which betaine has been shown to be a major osmolyte.

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