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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2008 Sep;29(9):437-44. doi: 10.1016/

3B but which 3B and that's just one of the questions: the heterogeneity of human 5-HT3 receptors.

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  • 1Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 2, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.


The 5-hydroxytryptamine 3 (5-HT3) receptor is expressed widely in the central and peripheral nervous systems, where it mediates or modulates a wide range of physiological processes. The receptor is targeted by drugs administered for nausea and/or emesis and irritable bowel syndrome and has been proposed as a potential drug target in various psychiatric disorders. The 5-HT3 receptor is a pentameric ligand-gated ion channel and belongs to the Cys-loop receptor family. In contrast to the immense heterogeneity characterizing other Cysloop receptors, native 5-HT3 receptors historically have been considered a much more homogenous receptor population. However, the recent discovery of additional 5-HT3 subunits and the dawning realization that central and peripheral 5-HT3 receptor populations might comprise several subtypes characterized by distinct functional properties has emphasized the complexity of human 5-HT3 receptor signaling. In this review potential implications of these findings and of the entirely new layer of interindividual diversity introduced to the 5-HT3 receptor system by genetic variations will be outlined.

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