Human-derived gut microbiota modulates colonic secretion in mice by regulating 5-HT3 receptor expression via acetate production

Yogesh Bhattarai, Bradley A. Schmidt, David R. Linden, Eric D. Larson, Madhusudan Grover, Arthur Beyder, Gianrico Farrugia, Purna C. Kashyap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)], an important neurotransmitter and a paracrine messenger in the gastrointestinal tract, regulates intestinal secretion by its action primarily on 5-HT3 and 5-HT4 receptors. Recent studies highlight the role of gut microbiota in 5-HT biosynthesis. In this study, we determine whether human-derived gut microbiota affects host secretory response to 5-HT and 5-HT receptor expression. We used proximal colonic mucosa-submucosa preparation from age-matched Swiss Webster germ-free (GF) and humanized (HM; ex-GF colonized with human gut microbiota) mice. 5-HT evoked a significantly greater increase in short-circuit current (∆Isc) in GF compared with HM mice. Additionally, 5-HT3 receptor mRNA and protein expression was significantly higher in GF compared with HM mice. Ondansetron, a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, inhibited 5-HT-evoked ∆Isc in GF mice but not in HM mice. Furthermore, a 5-HT3 receptor-selective agonist, 2-methyl-5-hydroxytryptamine hydrochloride, evoked a significantly higher ∆Isc in GF compared with HM mice. Immunohistochemistry in 5-HT3A-green fluorescent protein mice localized 5-HT3 receptor expression to enterochromaffin cells in addition to nerve fibers. The significant difference in 5-HT-evoked ∆Isc between GF and HM mice persisted in the presence of tetrodotoxin (TTX) but was lost after ondansetron application in the presence of TTX. Application of acetate (10 mM) significantly lowered 5-HT3 receptor mRNA in GF mouse colonoids. We conclude that host secretory response to 5-HT may be modulated by gut microbiota regulation of 5-HT3 receptor expression via acetate production. Epithelial 5-HT3 receptor may function as a mediator of gut microbiota-driven change in intestinal secretion. NEW & NOTEWORTHY We found that gut microbiota alters serotonin (5-HT)-evoked intestinal secretion in a 5-HT3 receptor-dependent mechanism and gut microbiota metabolite acetate alters 5-HT3 receptor expression in colonoids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G80-G87
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • 5-hydroxytryptamine type 3
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Microbiome
  • Motility
  • Physiology
  • Secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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