Presence, formation and putative biological activities of N-acyl serotonins, a novel class of fatty-acid derived mediators, in the intestinal tract

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Oct;1811(10):578-86. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2011.07.008. Epub 2011 Jul 21.


Following the discovery of the endocannabinoid arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide) and other N-acyl-ethanolamines, several other compounds have been found in which amino acids or neurotransmitters rather than ethanolamide are linked to fatty acids. Studies have shown that the local availability of fatty acid precursors, which in turn is modulated by dietary intake of lipids, determines the pattern of conjugates formed. Less information is available whether the same might be true for the amines or neurotransmitters involved. We hypothesized that N-arachidonoyl-serotonin (AA-5-HT) and its analogs could be endogenously present in those tissues that have high contents of serotonin. We investigated the endogenous presence of N-acyl serotonins in different parts of the gastro-intestinal tract of pigs and mice. We discovered that AA-5-HT, oleoyl-serotonin, palmitoyl-serotonin, and stearoyl-serotonin were endogenously present, particularly in the jejunum and ileum. Their formation in vitro was stimulated by the addition of serotonin to intestinal tissue incubations. Furthermore, in a mouse study we showed that the pattern of formation is dependent on the relative amount of fatty acids in the diet. The formation of docosahexaenoyl-serotonin and eicosapentaenoyl-serotonin was elevated in mice fed with a diet containing fish oil. Preliminary data showed that several of the serotonin conjugates are able to inhibit glucagon-like peptide-1 secretion and FAAH activity in vitro. Taken together, our data suggest that N-acyl serotonins are a novel class of lipid mediators present in the gut with highly promising biological properties.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Serotonin / analogs & derivatives
  • Serotonin / chemistry*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Swine
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Fatty Acids
  • Serotonin