Saturday, March 18, 2023

Discovery of serotonin

Serotonin is one of the oldest neurotransmitters, in an evolutionary sense, and is also one of the earliest to develop in the fetal brain. Serotonin is a key player in the functioning of GI tract muscles, causing the contraction of human intestines, and triggering the gut nerves which signal pain, nausea, and other GI problems. Serotonin is thought to be involved with the etiology of many other disorders other than migraines, for example depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Serotonin is implicated in a diverse range of behavioral and physiological functions such as sleep, appetite, thermoregulation, mood, and notably pain perception.

In the 1930's, Dr. Erspamer Vittorio was interested in the smooth muscle constricting or contracting properties of various amine substances found in the skins and intestinal tracts of a variety of species, including rabbits, mollusks, and frogs. At that time, he was working at the Institute of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, University of Pavia in Italy.

One substance which interested him was found in enterochromaffin cells of the gut. In 1935, Erspamer Vittorio showed an extract from enterochromaffin cells made intestines contract. Some believed it contained adrenaline, but two years later, Erspamer was able to show it was a previously unknown amine, which he named "enteramine". He continued studies on smooth muscle for several more years. He also studied the mollusc heart and the occurrence of enteramine in the salivary glands of the octopus.

Meanwhile, Irvine Page’s laboratory at the Cleveland Clinic had been studying substances that could cause contraction of blood vessels, searching for some natural factor that might be responsible for causing high blood pressure.

In 1948, Maurice M. Rapport, Arda Green, and Irvine Page of the Cleveland Clinic discovered a vasoconstrictor substance in blood serum, and since it was a serum agent affecting vascular tone, they crystallized and coined the term serotonin. The hormone was chemically identified as 5-hydroxytryptamine later by Rapport and became known of more broadly as 5HT.
Discovery of serotonin

The most popular articles

Selected Articles