The importance of serotonin in the gastrointestinal tract

Jarosław Koza, Renata Kwiatkowska, Adam Jurgoński, Małgorzata Pujanek, Monika Ameryk, Piotr Sikorski, Agnieszka Meder, Maciej Świątkowski


Introduction. Serotonin also called as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is a very important neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, also plays an important role in the gastrointestinal tract. It is known that the basis of the peristaltic reflex in the gut is the result of serotonin release from enterochromaffin cells. The vast majority of serotonin in the human body is associated with the gastrointestinal tract. It is produced by enterochromaffin cells, the activation of which causes the serotonin secretion into the intercellular space and its active action through the receptors. There are seven main types of serotonin receptors and some of them have also subtypes.
Description of the current knowledge and conclusions. Serotonin is responsible for some symptoms of carcinoid syndrome. It is the result of higher 5-hydroxytryptamine content in the body. Moreover disrupted serotonin system is found in different gastrointestinal disorders e.g. in gastroesophageal reflux disease, functional heartburn, hypersensitive esophagus, functional dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome (both diarrhoea predominant and constipation predominant) as well as in inflammatory bowel diseases. Knowledge of changed mechanisms in particular diseases facilitates the optimal choice of treatment. Drugs affecting the serotonin system in gastroenterological clinical practice are useful especially in the case of abnormalities in the brain - gut axis.


serotonin, gastrointestinal tract

Full Text:



Costedio MM, Hyman N, Mawe GM. Serotonin and its role in colonic function and in gastrointestinal disorders. Dis Colon Rectum. 2007;50 (3): 376-388.

Whitaker-Azmitia PM. The discovery of serotonin and its role in neuroscience. Neuropsychopharmacology. 1999; 21 (2 Suppl): 2S-8S.

Cirillo C, Vanden Berghe P, Tack J. Role of serotonin in gastrointestinal physiology and pathology. Minerva Endocrinol. 2011; 36 (4): 311-324.

Kim DY, Camilleri M. Serotonin: a mediator of the brain-gut connection. Am J Gastroenterol. 2000; 95 (10): 2698-2709.

Sanger GJ. 5-hydroxytryptamine and the gastrointestinal tract: where next? Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2008; 29 (9): 465-471.

Beattie DT, Smith JA. Serotonin pharmacology in the gastrointestinal tract: a review. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2008; 377(3): 181-203.

Hasler WL. Serotonin and the GI tract. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2009 Oct;11(5):383-91.

Manocha M, Khan WI. Serotonin and GI Disorders: An Update on Clinical and Experimental Studies. Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2012; 3(4): e13.

Kellum JM, Albuquerque FC, Stoner MC, Harris RP. Stroking human jejunal mucosa induces 5-HT release and Cl- secretion via afferent neurons and 5-HT4 receptors. Am J Physiol. 1999; 277(3 Pt 1) :G515-520.

Cooke HJ. "Enteric Tears": Chloride Secretion and Its Neural Regulation. News Physiol Sci. 1998; 13: 269-274.

Benarroch EE. Enteric nervous system: functional organization and neurologic implications. Neurology. 2007; 13; 69 (20):1953-1957.

Thiagarajah JR, Verkman AS. CFTR pharmacology and its role in intestinal fluid secretion. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2003; 3 (6): 594-599.

Camilleri M, Di Lorenzo C. Brain-gut axis: from basic understanding to treatment of IBS and related disorders. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012; 54 (4): 446-453.

Mustian KM, Devine K, Ryan JL, Janelsins MC, Sprod LK, Peppone LJ et al. Treatment of Nausea and Vomiting During Chemotherapy. US Oncol Hematol. 2011; 7 (2): 91-97.

du Bois A, Kriesinger-Schroeder H, Meerpohl HG. The role of serotonin as a mediator of emesis induced by different stimuli. Support Care Cancer. 1995; 3 (5): 285-90.

Zaucha R. Nudności i wymioty indukowane leczeniem przeciwnowotworowym — obecne zalecenia. NOWOTWORY Journal of Oncology 2012; 1: 27–33.

Moskwa A, Wiśniewska-Jarosińska M, Stec-Michalska K, Szadkowski K, Felicka E, Śmigielski J et al. Stężenie serotoniny w surowicy krwi i wydalanie kwasu 5-hydroksyindolooctowego z moczem u osób z zespołem jelita nadwrażliwego. Pol. Merk. Lek. 2007; 131: 366-368.

Wiśniewska-Jarosińska M, Harasiuk A, Klupińska G, Śmigielski J, Stec-Michalska K, Chojnacki C. Przydatność oznaczania stężenia serotoniny w surowicy i kwasu 5-hydroksyindolooctowego w moczu w diagnostyce dyspepsji czynnościowej. Przegląd Gastroenterologiczny 2010; 5 (5): 285–291.

Pytliak M, Vargová V, Mechírová V, Felšöci M. Serotonin receptors - from molecular biology to clinical applications. Physiol Res. 2011; 60 (1): 15-25.

Hoyer D, Hannon JP, Martin GR. Molecular, pharmacological and functional diversity of 5-HT receptors. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002; 71 (4): 533-54.

Delvaux M.: Modulation of serotoninergic pathways for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Annals of Gastroenterology 2002; 15 (3): 253-259.

Liu IH, Kunz PL. Biologics in gastrointestinal and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. J Gastrointest Oncol. 2017; 8 (3): 457-465.

Pandit S, Bhusal K. Carcinoid Syndrome. 2017 Oct 9. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2017 Jun-. Available from

Cingam SR, Karanchi H. Cancer, Carcinoid. 2017 Oct 13. StatPearls [Internet].Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2017 Jun-. Available from

Krishnan M, Bhimji SS. Cancer, Intestinal, Carcinoid. 2017 Oct 13. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2017 Jun-. Available from

Saslow SB, Scolapio JS, Camilleri M, Forstrom LA, Thomforde GM, Burton DD et al. Medium-term effects of a new 5HT3 antagonist, alosetron, in patients with carcinoid diarrhoea. Gut. 1998; 42 (5): 628-634.

Mönkemüller K, Malfertheiner P. Drug treatment of functional dyspepsia. World J Gastroenterol. 2006; 12 (17): 2694-2700.

Kellow JE, Cowan H, Shuter B, Riley JW, Lunzer MR, Eckstein RP et al. Efficacy of cisapride therapy in functional dyspepsia. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1995; 9 (2): 153-160.

Wu L, Oshima T, Tomita T, Ohda Y, Fukui H, Watari et al. Serotonin disrupts esophageal mucosal integrity: an investigation using a stratified squamous epithelial model. J Gastroenterol. 2016; 51 (11): 1040-1049.

Giacchino M, Savarino V, Savarino E. Distinction between patients with non-erosive reflux disease and functional heartburn. Ann Gastroenterol. 2013;26:283–289.

Viazis N, Karamanolis G, Vienna E, Karamanolis DG. Selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors for the treatment of hypersensitive esophagus. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2011; 4 (5): 295-300.

Coates MD, Mahoney CR, Linden DR, Sampson JE, Chen J, Blaszyk H et al. Molecular defects in mucosal serotonin content and decreased serotonin reuptake transporter in ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology 2004; 126: 1657–1664.

Crowell MD. Role of serotonin in the pathophysiology of the irritable bowel syndrome. Br J Pharmacol. 2004; 141 (8): 1285-1293.

Lee KJ, Kim YB, Kim JH, Kwon HC, Kim DK, Cho SW. The alteration of enterochromaffin cell, mast cell, and lamina propria T lymphocyte numbers in irritable bowel syndrome and its relationship with psychological factors. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008; 23(11):1689-94.

Chen L, Ilham SJ, Feng B. Pharmacological Approach for Managing Pain in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review Article. Anesth Pain Med. 2017; 25; 7 (2): e42747.

Aboumarzouk OM, Agarwal T, Antakia R, Shariff U, Nelson RL. Cisapride for intestinal constipation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011; 19 (1): CD007780.

Wysowski DK, Corken A, Gallo-Torres H, Talarico L, Rodriguez EM. Postmarketing reports of QT prolongation and ventricular arrhythmia in association with cisapride and Food and Drug Administration regulatory actions. Am J Gastroenterol. 2001; 96 (6): 1698-1703.

Rampe D, Roy ML, Dennis A, Brown AM. A mechanism for the proarrhythmic effects of cisapride (Propulsid): high affinity blockade of the human cardiac potassium channel HERG. FEBS Lett. 1997; 417(1): 28-32.

Hennessy S, Leonard CE, Newcomb C, Kimmel SE, Bilker WB. Cisapride and ventricular arrhythmia. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008; 66(3): 375-385.

Garsed K, Chernova J, Hastings M, Lam C, Marciani L, Singh G et al. A randomised trial of ondansetron for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea. Gut. 2014; 63 (10): 1617-1625.

Zheng Y, Yu T, Tang Y, Xiong W, Shen X, Jiang L, Lin L et al. Efficacy and safety of 5-hydroxytryptamine 3 receptor antagonists in irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2017; 12 (3): e0172846.

Magro F, Vieira-Coelho MA, Fraga S, Serrão MP, Veloso FT, Ribeiro T et al. Impaired synthesis or cellular storage of norepinephrine, dopamine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine in human inflammatory bowel disease. Dig Dis Sci 2002; 47: 216–224.

Margolis KG, Gershon MD. Enteric Neuronal Regulation of Intestinal Inflammation. Trends Neurosci. 2016; 39 (9): 614-624.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 © The Author(s)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Journal of Education, Health and Sport formerly Journal of Health Sciences

Declaration on the original version.

Editors indicates that the main version of the magazine is to issue a "electronic".

The journal has had 5 points in Ministry of Science and Higher Education parametric evaluation. § 8. 2) and § 12. 1. 2) 22.02.2019.

1223 Journal of Education, Health and Sport eISSN 2391-8306 7

ISSN 2391-8306 formerly ISSN: 1429-9623 / 2300-665X

Archives 2011 - 2014

PBN 2011 - 2014

POL-index 2011 - 2014

BASE 2011 - 2014

Indexed in Bases, Bazy indeksacyjne: ERIH Plus, Worldcat, PBN/POL-Index, ICI Journals Master List, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), ZBD, Ulrich's periodicals, Google Scholar, Polska Bibliografia Lekarska

US NLM = 101679844

101679844 - NLM Catalog Result - NCBI

Find a library that holds this journal:

Journal Language(s): English 

PBN Poland



Redaction, Publisher and Editorial Office

Instytut Kultury Fizycznej Uniwersytet Kazimierza Wielkiego w Bydgoszczy, Institute of Physical Education Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz, Poland 85-091 Bydgoszcz ul. Sportowa 2 Copyright by Instytut Kultury Fizycznej UKW w Bydgoszczy  Open Access ISSN 2391-8306 formerly ISSN: 1429-9623 / 2300-665X

The journal has been approved for inclusion in ERIH PLUS.

The ERIH PLUS listing of the journal is available at

SIC Science citation index (calculated on the basis of TCI and Page Rank) 0

Russian Impact factor 0.16

Indexed in Index Copernicus Journals Master List.,p24782242,3.html

ICV 2018 = 95.95 ICV 2017 = 91.30 ICV 2016 = 84.69 ICV 2015 = 93.34 ICV 2014 = 89.51 Standardized Value: 8.27 ICV 2013: 7.32 ICV 2012: 6.41 ICV 20115.48

The InfoBase Index IBI Factor for the year 2015 is 3.56 in InfoBase


Universal Impact Factor 1.78 for year 2012. (

Indexed in Polish Scholarly Bibliography (PBN) (PBN Polska Bibliografia Naukowa) (

is a portal of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, collecting information on publications of Polish scientists and on Polish and foreign scholarly journals. Polish Scholarly Bibliograhpy is a part of POL-on - System of Information on Higher Education. It is operated by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling, University of Warsaw.

Indexed in Russian Sciences Index Российский индекс научного цитирования (РИНЦ)

Indexed in Arianta Polish scientific and professional electronic journals Aneta Drabek i Arkadiusz Pulikowski