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Serotonin pharmacology in the gastrointestinal tract: a review

Abstract

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) plays a critical physiological role in the regulation of gastrointestinal (GI) function. 5-HT dysfunction may also be involved in the pathophysiology of a number of functional GI disorders, such as chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia. This article describes the role of 5-HT in the enteric nervous system (ENS) of the mammalian GI tract and the receptors with which it interacts. Existing serotonergic therapies that have proven effective in the treatment of GI functional disorders and the potential of drugs currently in development are also highlighted. Advances in our understanding of the physiological and pathophysiological roles of 5-HT in the ENS and the identification of selective receptor ligands bodes well for the future development of more efficacious therapies for patients with functional GI disorders.

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The authors are grateful to Dr. Patrick Humphrey and Dr. Sharath Hegde for their comments on the manuscript during its preparation.

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Beattie, D.T., Smith, J.A.M. Serotonin pharmacology in the gastrointestinal tract: a review. Naunyn-Schmied Arch Pharmacol 377, 181–203 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00210-008-0276-9

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Keywords

  • 5-HT
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Enteric nervous system