Role of serotonin 5-HT₃ receptors in intestinal inflammation

Biol Pharm Bull. 2013;36(9):1406-9. doi: 10.1248/bpb.b13-00363.


Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT), a well-characterized neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, plays a crucial role in regulating mood, body temperature, sleep, appetite, and metabolism. Serotonin is synthesized in the serotonergic neuron of the central nervous system; however, approximately 90% of serotonin is synthesized and localized in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, especially in the enterochromaffin (EC) cells. In the GI tract, serotonin mediates control over a variety of physiological functions such as contraction/relaxation of smooth muscle, and peristaltic and secretory reflexes, directly or indirectly through intrinsic primary afferent neurons. The receptors mediating the action of serotonin are mainly classified into 7 major groups known as the 5-HT1 to 5-HT7 receptors. The 5-HT3 receptor is distinguished from among the other 5-HT receptor subtypes because it is only a ligand-gated ion channel, whereas the other subtypes serve as G protein-coupled receptors. The 5-HT3 receptor, which is generally considered to be localized in the central and peripheral nervous systems, is involved in processes associated with emotion, cognition, memory, pain perception, and GI functions including secretion and motility. Recently, an increasing number of findings have provided evidence of the important role of the 5-HT3 receptor in the regulation of inflammatory and immune responses. In fact, several 5-HT3 receptor antagonists have been reported to ameliorate intestinal inflammation. Therefore, this review focuses on the role of 5-HT3 receptors in the pathogenesis of intestinal inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT3 / metabolism*
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT3
  • Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists
  • Serotonin