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J Neurobiol. 1992 Apr;23(3):270-9.

Differential effects of serotonin depletion on sensitization and dishabituation in the leech, Hirudo medicinalis.

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Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520.


The goal of these experiments was to test the hypothesis that serotonin (5-HT) is involved in facilitation of the shortening reflex in the leech Hirudo medicinalis. For this reason, we have used the toxin 5-hydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT) to deplete serotonin from the nervous systems of intact leeches and have assessed the effect on early facilitation, dishabituation, and sensitization of the touch-elicited shortening reflex using behavioral procedures previously developed in our lab (Boulis and Sahley, 1988). We find that 5,7-DHT lesions completely attenuate early facilitation and sensitization but only reduce dishabituation of the touch-elicited shortening reflex. Histological analyses of the ganglia from these leeches using glyoxilic acid staining procedures revealed an absence of staining in the Retzius cell of experimental leeches. All other serotonin-containing neurons showed glyoxilic acid staining comparable to that observed in the control leeches.

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