Simultaneous measurement of serotonin and melatonin from the intestine of old mice: the effects of daily melatonin supplementation

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Ageing is associated with important changes in gastrointestinal function and in the levels of intestinal hormones secreted. Enterochromaffin (EC) cells containing serotonin (5-HT) and melatonin may play a major role in maintaining gut function during ageing. Our aim was to characterise the mucosal availability of 5-HT and melatonin in the ileum and colon of a mouse model of ageing. Female young mice (2–5 month; n = 6), aged mice (22–24 months; n = 6) and aged mice treated with melatonin (n = 6; 10 mg/kg/day) were examined. Electrochemical methods were used to measure 5-HT and melatonin concentrations near the mucosal surface of ileum and distal colon. Amperometry studies showed that steady state levels of 5-HT from ileum and colon were decreased in aged mice treated with melatonin when compared to aged mice, while compression-evoked 5-HT release was unchanged. Differential pulse voltammetry studies showed that young mice had concentrations of 5-HT of 4.8 ± 0.8 μM in the ileum and 4.9 ± 1.0 μM in the colon. Concentrations of melatonin were 5.7 ± 1.4 μM in the ileum and 5.6 ± 1.9 μM in the colon. Compared to young mice, the levels of 5-HT and melatonin were increased in aged mice (combined ileum and colon: 5-HT = 130% and melatonin = 126% of young mice) and decreased in melatonin-treated mice (5-HT = 94% and melatonin = 82%). In conclusion, our data show that the availability of gut 5-HT and melatonin is increased in aged mice and melatonin treatment suppresses natural gastrointestinal production of 5-HT and melatonin in the aged mouse intestine.

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