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Behav Pharmacol. 2008 May;19(3):177-82. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e3282fe885e.

Behavioral characterization of serotonergic activation in the flatworm Planaria.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Temple University School of Pharmacy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140, USA.


Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) receptors have been identified in Planaria, a model used for studying the pharmacology of behavioral phenomena. This study characterized the behavioral and locomotor effects of 5-HT, a 5-HT1A agonist, a 5-HT1B/2C agonist, and a 5-HT1A antagonist to examine the role of 5-HT receptor activation in this species. Planarians were video recorded individually in a clear plastic cube containing drug solution or vehicle. To quantify locomotor velocity (pLMV), planarians were placed individually into a dish containing drug solution or vehicle and the rate of gridline crossings was recorded. For the antagonist experiments, four conditions were studied: water alone, agonist alone, antagonist alone, and agonist plus antagonist. The decrease in pLMV induced by the5-HT1A agonist (8-OH-DPAT), and the 5-HT1B/2C agonist (mCPP), was antagonized by pretreatment with the 5-HT1A antagonist (WAY-100635) at a dose that had no effect of its own on pLMV. At a higher concentration of WAY-100635, further decreases in pLMV induced by 8-OH-DPAT were observed. Each agonist produced increased occurrences of 'C-like position' and 'screw-like hyperkinesia', 5-HT and mCPP produced 'writhing', and only mCPP produced a significant increase in duration of 'headswing' behavior. The results demonstrate that the 5-HT1A receptor identified in Planaria mediates behavioral responses to 5-HT receptor ligands, supporting the notion that planarians possess functional 5-HT receptors and might serve as a simple model for their study.

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