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Psychiatry Res. 2005 Apr 30;134(3):251-8.

Effects of serotonin and serotonergic agonists and antagonists on the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Neuroendocrinology, Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Smetna 12, PL 31-343 Kraków, Poland. Kubera@if-pan.krakow.pl

Abstract

Serotonin (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter and immune modulator. The effect of 5-HT on the production of cytokines by human macrophages and lymphocytes is poorly recognized. In the present article we examine the role of 5-HT in modulating the production of two pro-inflammatory cytokines, i.e. interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha), as well as the role of 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(2) receptors in this process. The specific aims were to examine the effects of 5-HT, p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA), a 5-HT depleting agent, flesinoxan, a 5-HT(1A) agonist, m-chlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP), a 5-HT(2B/2C) agonist, and ritanserin, a 5-HT(2A/2C) antagonist, on the production of the above cytokines. We found that: (1) 5-HT, 15 microg/ml, significantly decreased IL-6 and TNFalpha production; (2) pCPA, 5 microM, significantly suppressed the production of IL-6 and TNFalpha; and (3) mCPP, 2.7 microg/ml, significantly increased the production of IL-6 and TNFalpha. It is concluded that intracellular 5-HT is necessary for optimal synthesis of IL-6 and TNFalpha; 5-HT in physiological concentrations may increase IL-6 and TNFalpha production by stimulating 5-HT(2) receptors; and extracellular 5-HT concentrations above the baseline physiological levels may suppress the production of the above cytokines.

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