• serotonin uptake;
  • immunocytochemistry;
  • pharmacology;
  • motility;
  • gut


Repeated experiments to localise serotonin in the myenteric plexus of rabbit ileum failed. After preincubation in serotonin (10−5 M), an extensive varicose fibre system was detected by immunocytochemical methods. Stained fibres left the myenteric plexus and ran to the muscle layers. Labelled cell bodies could not be found, even after pretreatment with colchicine or pargyline. Application of reserpine (10−5 M) and fluoxetine (10−5 M) prevented serotonin uptake. Antisera against tryptophan hydroxylase revealed a rich fibre system, including those processes that entered the tertiary plexus. These fibres were able to accumulate serotonin, but again the cell bodies could not be detected. Serotonin caused concentration-dependent contraction in the longitudinal muscle layer of the rabbit ileum. Pretreatment with tetrodotoxin strongly reduced the effect of serotonin. Preapplication of atropine caused a slight decrease of response evoked by serotonin. Combined administration of tetrodotoxin and atropine significantly reduced the responses to serotonin, but did not abolish them. At the same time, agonists of 5-HT2 and 5-HT4 receptors caused concentration-dependent contractions. Our studies show that: 1) Without pretreatment, serotonin cannot be detected in the myenteric plexus of rabbit ileum. 2) An extensive uptake system works in this plexus. If released from myenteric nerve fibres, serotonin may evoke contractions in indirect and direct ways. 3) There may be an extrinsic serotoninergic innervation from the mesenteric ganglia. 4) Serotonin exerts its effect through 5-HT2 and 5-HT4 receptors on smooth muscle cells and nerve elements. Anat Rec Part A 271A:368–376, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.