Prostaglandins and serotonin: nonpeptide diarrheogenic hormones

World Journal of Surgery
B M Jaffe


Prostaglandins and serotonin are vasoactive compounds with profound effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Both cause inhibition of gastric acid secretion (although serotonin stimulates gastric pepsin secretion), stimulation of intestinal motility, and conversion of small intestinal mucosa from absorption to secretion of water and electrolytes. Their effects on pancreatic and biliary function are still not clear. Although prostaglandins appear to elicit their effects primarily by a paracrine mode of action, and serotonin is primarily a neurotransmitter (neurocrine), it is clear that even under normal conditions both can function as humoral agents. For example, we have shown that serotonin plays a physiologic role as a humoral inhibitor of gastric acid secretion. However, the effects of these agents become more pronounced in patients with humorally mediated diarrheogenic syndromes. Serotonin (and related indoles, particularly 5-hydroxytryptophan) has been firmly implicated as a cause of diarrhea in patients with carcinoid syndrome; our recent studies suggest that the diagnosis can be more effectively made by measuring circulating immunoreactive serotonin concentrations than urinary excretion of 5-HIAA; that some circulating sero...Continue Reading


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