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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010 Mar;298(3):G446-55. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00318.2009. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

Analysis of real-time serotonin (5-HT) availability during experimental colitis in mouse.

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Department of Physiology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Serotonin (5-HT)-containing enterochromaffin (EC) cells of the intestine transduce chemical and mechanical stimuli from the intestinal lumen by releasing 5-HT on to afferent nerve terminals. Dysfunctional mucosal 5-HT signaling has been implicated in heightened visceral sensitivity and altered motility in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and in animal models. Our aim was to characterize the release and uptake of 5-HT in the mouse dextran sulfate sodium (DSS; 5% wt/vol) model of colitis. We made electrochemical recordings and used an ELISA assay to determine mucosal 5-HT release and uptake in untreated mice and mice with DSS-induced colitis. Peak and steady-state 5-HT concentrations were measured before and during blockade of the serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) with 1 microM fluoxetine. Electrochemical recordings showed that colons from DSS-treated mice had roughly twice the steady-state levels of extracellular 5-HT and compression-evoked 5-HT release compared with untreated mice. Fluoxetine doubled the compression-evoked and steady-state 5-HT levels in control and DSS mice. These data were supported by ELISA assays, which showed enhanced 5-HT release during colitis, by immunohistochemical analyses, which showed increases in EC cell numbers, and by real-time PCR, which identified a decrease in SERT mRNA expression in the mucosa during colitis. These data are the first to demonstrate 5-HT release close to its release site and near its site of action during DSS-colitis. We conclude that DSS-colitis increases 5-HT availability primarily by an increase in the numbers of EC cells and/or of content of 5-HT in these EC cells.

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