Anorexigen-induced pulmonary hypertension and the serotonin (5-HT) hypothesis: lessons for the future in pathogenesis

Respir Res. 2002;3(1):9. doi: 10.1186/rr181. Epub 2001 Nov 20.


Epidemiological studies have established that fenfluramine, D-fenfluramine, and aminorex, but not other appetite suppressants, increase the risk of primary pulmonary hypertension (PH). One current hypothesis suggests that fenfluramine-like medications may act through interactions with the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) transporter (5-HTT) located on pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells and responsible for the mitogenic action of 5-HT. Anorexigens may contribute to PH by boosting 5-HT levels in the bloodstream, directly stimulating smooth muscle cell growth, or altering 5-HTT expression. We suggest that individuals with a high basal level of 5-HTT expression related to the presence of the long 5-HTT gene promoter variant may be particularly susceptible to one or more of these potential mechanisms of appetite-suppressant-related PH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite Depressants / adverse effects*
  • Appetite Depressants / metabolism
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / chemically induced*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / genetics
  • Serotonin / blood*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics


  • Appetite Depressants
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Serotonin