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Review Article

Serotonergic Integration In the Intestinal Mucosa

[ Vol. 26 , Issue. 25 ]


Jackie D. Wood*   Pages 3010 - 3014 ( 5 )


Mucosal serotonin (5-HT) is a key paracrine signaling molecule in the integrated physiology of enterochromaffin cells, enteric mast cells, spinal afferent nerves and the enteric nervous system (ENS). Enterochromaffin cells release 5-HT as a paracrine signal to enteric mast cells, spinal afferents and neurons in the ENS. Enteric mast cells release multiple mediators of paracrine signaling, among which are histamine and the serine proteases, chymase and tryptase, as well as serotonin. Some of these mediators diffuse to receptors on afferent nociceptive and mechanosensitive terminals and sensitize the terminals in a manner that may underlie abdominal pain and distension induced pain in the irritable bowel syndrome. Substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), released by spinal afferent innervation, degranulate enteric mast cells. Substance P and CGRP are significant factors in mucosal inflammation evoked by bacteria in the colonic microbiome. Binding of immunoglobulin antibodies to FcεRI receptors, on enteric mast cells, degranulate the mast cells and release paracrine mediators that overlay integrative microcircuitry in the ENS. An overlay of histamine “calls up” from the ENS library of programed gut behaviors, a defensive program consisting of a sequence of copious mucosal secretions, increased blood flow and powerful orthograde propulsion organized to move threats out of the colonic lumen. Symptoms of acute watery diarrhea, cramping abdominal pain and incontinence are associated with “running” of the defense program. Intestinal behavioral programs stored in the ENS library are described as working like digital “apps”.


Mucosal epithelium, Enterochromaffin cells, Enteric mast cells, Spinal afferent neurons, Abdominal pain, Mucosal inflammation, Irritable bowel syndrome.


Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, The Ohio State University, College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio 43210

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