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J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2008 Apr-Jun;8(2):121-32.

Skeletal effects of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) transporter inhibition: evidence from in vitro and animal-based studies.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


The regulation of bone metabolism continues to be an area of intense investigation, with recent evidence indicating a potential contribution from the neural system. In particular, the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) has been hypothesized to play a role in skeletal metabolism via its transporter (5-HTT). The 5-HTT is a plasma membrane transporter that is highly specific for the uptake of extracellular 5-HT, thereby facilitating the intracellular storage and/or degradation of 5-HT. The 5-HTT is clinically important as it is the key target of pharmaceutical agents aimed at treating affective disorders, such as major depressive disorder. By antagonizing the 5-HTT, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) potentiate 5-HT activity and effectively relieve the symptoms of depression. However, questions have been raised regarding the potential skeletal effects of SSRIs given the recent identification of a functional 5-HTT and functional 5-HT receptors in bone cells. This paper discusses the preclinical evidence for the skeletal effects of 5-HT and the inhibition of the 5-HTT. In particular, it discusses the: (1) role of 5-HT and the function of the 5-HTT; (2) presence of functional 5-HTTs in bone; (3) potential sources and response mechanisms for 5-HT in bone, and; (4) in vitro and in vivo skeletal effects of 5-HT and 5-HTT inhibition.

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