Acquire the license to the best health content in the world
Contact Us

Serotonin's Effects Extend Far Beyond Brain

Neurochemical could play key role in embryonic development, study suggests

MONDAY, May 9, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The brain chemical serotonin is present in embryos long before neurons form and plays a role in determining the position of organs during embryonic development, scientists report.

These findings about serotonin, which is involved in the transmission of signals between neurons and plays a role in anxiety and mood disorders, could have a potential impact in many fields, including neuroscience, developmental genetics, evolutionary biology and human teratology -- a branch of pathology and embryology that focuses on abnormal development and congenital malformations, the researchers said.

In work focused on chicken and frog embryos, researchers at the Forsyth Institute in Boston identified a potential new serotonin-signaling pathway, offering evidence that the chemical may be able to signal inside cells.

If this signaling also turns up in mammals, including humans, it could suggest new roles and targets for serotonin-related drugs, the researchers explained.

"We hope that through better understanding of important but previously little-studied biophysical signals, new therapeutic applications can be developed," principal investigator Michael Levin said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in the May 10 issue of the journal Current Biology.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about fetal development.

SOURCE: Forsyth Institute, news release, May 9, 2005
Consumer News