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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 May;35(6):1419-49. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.03.005. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

5-HT receptors and reward-related behaviour: a review.

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Centre for Neuroscience, 513 HMRC, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2S2, Canada.


The brain's serotonin (5-HT) system is key in the regulation of reward-related behaviours, from eating and drinking to sexual activity. The complexity of studying this system is due, in part, to the fact that 5-HT acts at many receptor subtypes throughout the brain. The recent development of drugs with greater selectivity for individual receptor subtypes has allowed for rapid advancements in our understanding of this system. Use of these drugs in combination with animal models entailing selective reward measures (i.e. intracranial self-stimulation, drug self-administration, conditioned place preference) have resulted in a greater understanding of the pharmacology of reward-related processing and behaviour (particularly regarding drugs of abuse). The putative roles of each 5-HT receptor subtype in the pharmacology of reward are outlined and discussed here. It is concluded that the actions of 5-HT in reward are receptor subtype-dependent (and thus should not be generalized) and that all studied subtypes appear to have a unique profile which is determined by content (e.g. receptor function, localization - both throughout the brain and within the synapse) and context (e.g. type of behavioural paradigm, type of drug). Given evidence of altered reward-related processing and serotonergic function in numerous neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, and addiction, a clearer understanding of the role of 5-HT receptor subtypes in this context may lead to improved drug development and therapeutic approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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