Biochemistry, Serotonin

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter that plays a role in several complex biological functions. Its common abbreviation is 5-HT because of its chemical name: 5-hydroxytryptamine. The attribution for the discovery of serotonin is that it occurred serendipitously by Vittorio Erspmarer during his attempt to purify extract from enterochromaffin cells in 1935. Serotonin forms from the hydroxylation (i.e., the addition of -OH group) and decarboxylation of the tryptophan amino acid. The highest serotonin concentration is in the gastrointestinal tract's enterochromaffin cells, with small amounts in the central nervous system and platelets. Serotonin induces changes in the cell by its action on the serotonergic receptors, which are coupled to different G proteins mediating intracellular changes.

The biological function of serotonin plays several roles in the human body, such as influencing learning, memory, happiness, and reward, as well as physiological processes such as sleep regulation, behavior, and appetite. Serotonin plays a significant role in the pharmacodynamic activities of antidepressants, such as SSRIs and SNRIs. This compound is found in mammals, insects, plants, and fungi. Therefore, consuming these organisms can affect human serotonin levels, occasionally leading to adverse effects.

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