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Neuropharmacology. 2008 Nov;55(6):1066-71. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.07.010. Epub 2008 Jul 16.

Effects of serotonin in failing cardiac ventricle: signalling mechanisms and potential therapeutic implications.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1057 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway.


Previously, cardioexcitation by serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) was believed to be confined to atria in mammals including man, and mediated through 5-HT(4) receptors in pig and man, but 5-HT(2A) receptors in rat. Recent studies, reviewed here, demonstrate that functional 5-HT(4) receptors can be revealed in porcine and human ventricular myocardium during phosphodiesterase inhibition, and that 5-HT(4) receptor mRNA is increased in human heart failure. In rats, functional 5-HT(4) and 5-HT(2A) receptors appear in the cardiac ventricle during heart failure and mediate inotropic responses through different mechanisms. 5-HT(2A) receptor signalling resembles that from alpha(1)-adrenoceptors and causes inotropic effects through increased myosin light chain phosphorylation, resulting in Ca(2+) sensitisation. 5-HT(4) receptor signalling resembles that from beta-adrenoceptors and causes inotropic effects through a pathway involving cAMP and PKA-mediated phosphorylation of proteins involved in Ca(2+) handling, resulting in enhanced contractility through increased Ca(2+) availability. Cyclic AMP generated through 5-HT(4) receptor stimulation seems more efficiently coupled to increased contractility than cAMP generated through beta-adrenoceptor stimulation. Increasing contractility through cAMP is considered less energy efficient than Ca(2+) sensitisation and this may be one reason why beta-adrenoceptor antagonism is beneficial in heart failure patients. Treatment of heart failure rats with the 5-HT(4) antagonist SB207266 (piboserod) resulted in potentially beneficial effects, although small. Further studies are needed to clarify if such treatment will be useful for patients with heart failure.

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