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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

On-line version ISSN 1414-431X


YAN, Chi et al. Effect of the 5-HT4 receptor and serotonin transporter on visceral hypersensitivity in rats. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2012, vol.45, n.10, pp.948-954.  Epub July 26, 2012 ISSN 1414-431X.

Visceral hypersensitivity plays an important role in motor and sensory abnormalities associated with irritable bowel syndrome, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. The present study was designed to evaluate the expression of the 5-HT4 receptor and the serotonin transporter (SERT) as well as their roles in chronic visceral hypersensitivity using a rat model. Neonatal male Sprague-Dawley rats received intracolonic injections of 0.5% acetic acid (0.3-0.5 mL at different times) between postnatal days 8 and 21 to establish an animal model of visceral hypersensitivity. On day 43, the threshold intensity for a visually identifiable contraction of the abdominal wall and body arching were recorded during rectal distention. Histological evaluation and the myeloperoxidase activity assay were performed to determine the severity of inflammation. The 5-HT4 receptor and SERT expression of the ascending colon were monitored using immunohistochemistry and Western blot analyses; the plasma 5-HT levels were measured using an ELISA method. As expected, transient colonic irritation at the neonatal stage led to visceral hypersensitivity, but no mucosal inflammation was later detected during adulthood. Using this model, we found reduced SERT expression (0.298 ± 0.038 vs 0.634 ± 0.200, P < 0.05) and increased 5-HT4 receptor expression (0.308 ± 0.017 vs 0.298 ± 0.021, P < 0.05). Treatment with fluoxetine (10 mg·kg-1·day-1, days 36-42), tegaserod (1 mg·kg-1·day-1, day 43), or the combination of both, reduced visceral hypersensitivity and plasma 5-HT levels. Fluoxetine treatment increased 5-HT4 receptor expression (0.322 ± 0.020 vs 0.308 ± 0.017, P < 0.01) but not SERT expression (0.219 ± 0.039 vs 0.298 ± 0.038, P = 0.654). These results indicate that both the 5-HT4 receptor and SERT play a role in the pathogenesis of visceral hypersensitivity, and its mechanism may be involved in the local 5-HT level.

Keywords : 5-Hydroxytryptamine receptor; Serotonin; Serotonin transport protein; Visceral hypersensitivity; SERT expression.

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