Serotonin and cardiac morphogenesis in the mouse embryo

Teratology. 1993 Jun;47(6):573-84. doi: 10.1002/tera.1420470609.


The possible involvement of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) and its binding protein (SBP) in cardiac morphogenesis was studied using mouse whole embryo culture (together with immunocytochemistry or 3H-thymidine autoradiography) and a cell migration assay. Embryos were cultured before and during the period of endocardial cushion formation, embryonic (E) days 9-12, in the presence of 5-HT, the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor nialamide, or an uptake inhibitor (fluoxetine or sertraline). For the migration assay, cells from the outflow tracts of E12 embryos were dissociated and placed in a chemotaxis chamber together with different concentrations of 5-HT. E9 embryos cultured in the presence of 10 microM 5-HT and nialamide exhibited intense 5-HT immunoreactivity (5-HT IR) throughout the myocardium. This staining was greatly diminished by fluoxetine, sertraline, or the absence of nialamide. As morphogenesis proceeded, myocardial staining in embryos exposed to 5-HT became restricted to developing endocardial cushion forming regions and was more completely blocked by uptake inhibitors. No evidence for 5-HT synthesis by myocardium was found at any age studied using the precursor L-tryptophan. SBP was present in endocardial cushions in cultured and uncultured embryos. 3H-thymidine autoradiography demonstrated that both fluoxetine and sertraline inhibited proliferation of cardiac mesenchyme, endocardium, and myocardium. These effects were most pronounced when exposure began at E9 (prior to cushion formation). Dose-dependent effects of 5-HT on migration of outflow tract cells were also observed. Taken together, these results suggest that 5-HT may play a role in cardiac morphogenesis during endocardial cushion formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 1-Naphthylamine / analogs & derivatives
  • 1-Naphthylamine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Female
  • Fetal Heart / drug effects
  • Fetal Heart / embryology*
  • Fetal Heart / physiology
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Nialamide / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Serotonin / pharmacology
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Sertraline
  • Signal Transduction


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • serotonin-binding protein
  • Fluoxetine
  • Serotonin
  • 1-Naphthylamine
  • Sertraline
  • Nialamide