The role of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) in gastrointestinal motility has been studied for over 50 years. Most of the 5-HT in the body resides in the gut wall, where it is located in subsets of mucosal cells (enterochromaffin cells) and neurons (descending interneurons). Many studies suggest that 5-HT is important to normal and dysfunctional gut motility and drugs affecting 5-HT receptors, especially 5-HT3 and 5-HT4 receptors, have been used clinically to treat motility disorders; however, cardiovascular side effects have limited the use of these drugs. Recently studies have questioned the importance and necessity of 5-HT in general and mucosal 5-HT in particular for colonic motility. Recent evidence suggests the importance of 5-HT3 and 5-HT4 receptors for initiation and generation of one of the key colonic motility patterns, the colonic migrating motor complex (CMMC), in rat. The findings suggest that 5-HT3 and 5-HT4 receptors are differentially involved in two different types of rat CMMCs: the long distance contraction (LDC) and the rhythmic propulsive motor complex (RPMC). The understanding of the role of serotonin in colonic motility has been influenced by the specific motility pattern(s) studied, the stimulus used to initiate the motility (spontaneous vs induced), and the route of administration of drugs. All of these considerations contribute to the understanding and the controversy that continues to surround the role of serotonin in the gut.
Serotonin and colonic motility. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2015 July