The role of serotonin and its receptors in activation of immune responses and inflammation
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Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter and hormone that contributes to the regulation of various physiological functions by its actions in the central nervous system (CNS) and in the respective organ systems. Peripheral 5-HT is predominantly produced by enterochromaffin (EC) cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These gut-resident cells produce much more 5-HT than all neuronal and other sources combined, establishing EC cells as the main source of this biogenic amine in the human body. Peripheral 5-HT is also a potent immune modulator and affects various immune cells through its receptors and via the recently identified process of serotonylation. Alterations in 5-HT signalling have been described in inflammatory conditions of the gut, such as inflammatory bowel disease. The association between 5-HT and inflammation, however, is not limited to the gut, as changes in 5-HT levels have also been reported in patients with allergic airway inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis. Based on searches for terms such as '5-HT', 'EC cell', 'immune cells' and 'inflammation' in pubmed.gov as well as by utilizing pertinent reviews, the current review aims to provide an update on the role of 5-HT in biological functions with a particular focus on immune activation and inflammation.
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