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Cardiovasc Res. 2005 Mar 1;65(4):869-78.

Appearance of a ventricular 5-HT4 receptor-mediated inotropic response to serotonin in heart failure.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway.



Current pharmacological treatment of congestive heart failure (CHF) addresses changes in neurohumoral stimulation or cardiac responsiveness to such stimulation. Yet, undiscovered neurohumoral changes, adaptive or maladaptive, may occur in CHF and suggest novel pharmacological treatment. Serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] enhances contractility and causes arrhythmias through 5-HT(4) receptors in human atrium and ventricle but not through rat ventricular 5-HT(4) receptors.


We investigated whether CHF could induce ventricular responsiveness to serotonin.


Postinfarction CHF was induced in male Wistar rats by coronary artery ligation. Contractility was measured in left ventricular papillary muscles 6 weeks after infarction. Messenger RNA was quantified by RT-PCR and cAMP by RIA.


Serotonin caused positive inotropic (-logEC(50)=7.5) and lusitropic effects in CHF but not Sham papillary muscles. The inotropic effect of 10 muM serotonin in CHF (31.3+/-2.2%) was of similar size as the effect of 10 muM isoproterenol (34.0+/-1.7%). The effects of serotonin were antagonised by GR113808 (0.5-5 nM), consistent with mediation through 5-HT(4) receptors. This was further supported by positive inotropic effects of the 5-HT(4)-selective partial agonist RS67506. Carbachol blunted the serotonin responses and serotonin increased ventricular and cardiomyocyte cAMP, consistent with coupling to G(s) and adenylyl cyclase. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed fourfold increased 5-HT(4(b)) mRNA expression in CHF vs. Sham ventricles.


Functional ventricular 5-HT(4) receptors are induced by myocardial infarction and CHF of the rat heart. We propose that they are a model for ventricular 5-HT(4) receptors of human failing heart and may play a pathophysiological role in heart failure.

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