Spore-forming bacteria regulate serotonin biosynthesis in the gut

90% of the human body’s serotonin (also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) is produced by enterochromaffin (EC) cells in the gut and is used for enteric functions.

A paper in Cell by Yano and colleagues demonstrates that the microbiota play a vital role in regulating serotonin in the host. In the gut microbiota of mice and humans, spore-forming bacteria promote 5-HT biosynthesis from EC cells, and microbiota-dependent effects on gut serotonin modulate gastrointestinal motility and other functions.

The authors looked for the key metabolites in these processes, and identified certain ones — increased by the presence of spore-forming bacteria — that elevated 5-HT in EC cultures; they suggested the occurrence of direct metabolic signaling from gut microbes to EC cells. In addition, they found that in germ-free mice, elevated luminal concentrations of specific microbial metabolites increased 5-HT in the colon and blood.

Yano JM, et al. (2015) Indigenous bacteria from the gut microbiota regulate host serotonin biosynthesis. Cell. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.047

Paul Enck
Paul Enck
Prof. Dr. Paul Enck, Director of Research, Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany. His main interests are gut functions in health and disease, including functional and inflammatory bowel disorders, the role of the gut microbiota, regulation of eating and food intake and its disorders, of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness, and the psychophysiology and neurobiology of the placebo response, with specific emphasis on age and gender contributions. He has published more than 170 original data paper in scientific, peer-reviewed journals, and more than 250 book chapters and review articles. He is board member/treasurer of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and of the German Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, and has served as reviewer for many international journals and grant agencies.