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A role for serotonin (5-HT) in hepatic stellate cell function and liver fibrosis

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Fiona OakleyORCiD, Professor Derek Mann


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Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are key cellular components of hepatic wound healing and fibrosis. There is emerging evidence that the fibrogenic function of HSCs may be influenced by neurochemical and neurotrophic factors. This study addresses the potential for the serotonin (5-HT) system to influence HSC biology. Rat and human HSCs express the 5-HT1B, 5-HT1F 5-HT2A 5-HT2B, and 5-HT7 receptors, with expression of 5-HT1B 5-HT2A and 5-HT2B being induced on HSC activation. Induction of 5-HT2A and 5-HT2B was 106 ± 39- and 52 ± 8.5-fold that of quiescent cells, respectively. 5-HT2B was strongly associated with fibrotic tissue in diseased rat liver. Treatment of HSCs with 5-HT2 antagonists suppressed proliferation and elevated their rate of apoptosis; by contrast 5-HT was protective against nerve growth factor-induced apoptosis. 5-HT synergized with platelet-derived growth factor to stimulate increased HSC proliferation. HSCs were shown to express a functional serotonin transporter and to participate in both active uptake and release of 5-HT. We conclude that HSCs express key regulatory components of the 5-HT system enabling them to store and release 5-HT and to respond to the neurotransmitter hi a profibrogenic manner. Antagonists that selectively target the 5-HT class of receptors may be exploited as antifibrotic drugs. Copyright © American Society for Investigative Pathology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ruddell RG, Oakley F, Hussain Z, Yeung I, Bryan-Lluka LJ, Ramm GA, Mann DA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Pathology

Year: 2006

Volume: 169

Issue: 3

Pages: 861-876

ISSN (print): 0002-9440

ISSN (electronic): 1525-2191

Publisher: American Society for Investigative Pathology


DOI: 10.2353/ajpath.2006.050767

PubMed id: 16936262


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Funder referenceFunder name
068524/Z/02/ZWellcome Trust
050443/Z/02Wellcome Trust