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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Mar;296(3):G685-95. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.90685.2008. Epub 2008 Dec 18.

Role of serotonin in intestinal inflammation: knockout of serotonin reuptake transporter exacerbates 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid colitis in mice.

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Department of Nutritional Medicine and Immunology, University of Hohenheim, D-70593 Stuttgart, Germany.


Serotonin (5-HT) regulates peristaltic and secretory reflexes in the gut. The serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT; SLC6A4), which inactivates 5-HT, is expressed in the intestinal mucosa and the enteric nervous system. Stool water content is increased and colonic motility is irregular in mice with a targeted deletion of SERT. We tested the hypotheses that 5-HT plays a role in regulating intestinal inflammation and that the potentiation of serotonergic signaling that results from SERT deletion is proinflammatory. Rectal installation of 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) was used to induce an immune-mediated colitis, which was compared in SERT knockout mice and littermate controls. Intestinal myeloperoxidase and histamine levels were significantly increased, whereas the survival rate and state of health were significantly decreased in TNBS-treated mice that lacked SERT. Deletion of SERT thus increases the severity of TNBS colitis. These data suggest that 5-HT and its SERT-mediated termination play roles in intestinal immune/inflammatory responses in mice.

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