BACKGROUND In the upper bowel, alterations in motility and absorption of key nutrients have been observed as part of the normal ageing process. Serotonin (5-HT) is a key signalling molecule in the gastrointestinal tract and is known to influence motility, however little is known of how the ageing process alters 5-HT signalling processes in the bowel. RESULTS An isocratic chromatographic method was able to detect all 5-HT precursors and metabolites. Using extracellular and intracellular sampling approaches, we were able to monitor all key parameters associated with the transmission process. There was no alteration in the levels of tryptophan and 5-HTP between 3 and 18 month old animals. There was a significant increase in the ratio of 5-HT:5-HTP and an increase in intracellular 5-HT between 3 and 18 month old animals suggesting an increase in 5-HT synthesis. There was also a significant increase in extracellular 5-HT with age, suggesting increased 5-HT release. There was an age-related decrease in the ratio of intracellular 5-HIAA:extracellular 5-HT, whilst the amount of 5-HIAA did not change with age. In the presence of an increase in extracellular 5-HT, the lack of an age-related change in 5-HIAA is suggestive of a decrease in re-uptake via the serotonin transporter (SERT). CONCLUSIONS We have used intracellular and extracellular sampling to provide more insight into alterations in the neurotransmission process of 5-HT during normal ageing. We observed elevated 5-HT synthesis and release and a possible decrease in the activity of SERT. Taken together these changes lead to increased 5-HT availability and may alter motility function and could lead to the changes in adsorption observed in the elderly.
Bibliographical note© 2012 Parmar et al; licensee Chemistry Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
- Enterochromaffin cell