Updates on the biology of serotonin and tryptophan hydroxylase

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To summarize the most recent findings relevant to the biology of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) and the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) in human gastrointestinal disease.

Recent findings

Serotonin is synthesized in the central nervous system (CNS) and the gastrointestinal tract where it is secreted from enteroendocrine cells. Its biosynthesis is regulated by two isoforms of the enzyme TPH of which TPH1 is localized predominantly in gastrointestinal enteroendocrine cells. Serotonin activates the peristaltic reflexes, regulates gastrointestinal motility, and has a role in intestinal inflammation. Inhibition of TPH with novel molecules represents a new pharmacological tool in the successful management of carcinoid syndrome in patients with gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors (GI-NETs). Certain 5-HT receptor subtype agonists and antagonists are useful in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Summary

The gastrointestinal tract is the largest storage organ for serotonin where its biosynthesis is regulated by TPH1. It has several important functions in gastrointestinal motility, secretion, and inflammation. Furthermore, TPH represents a target for inhibitory pharmacological therapy of serotonin access states such as the carcinoid syndrome.

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