• blood–brain barrier;
  • microdialysis;
  • serotonin;
  • SSRI


The present study re-evaluated an existing notion that serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) could not cross the brain to the circulating blood via the blood–brain barrier (BBB). To elevate brain 5-HT alone, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP; 30–75 mg/kg) was administrated intravenously to anaesthetized rats that had undergone gastrointestinal and kidney resections along with liver inactivation (organs contributing to increasing blood 5-HT after 5-HTP administration). A microdialysis method and HPLC system were used to determine the brain 5-HT levels in samples collected from the frontal cortex. Blood 5-HT levels were determined from whole blood, not platelet-poor plasma, collected from the central vein. We found that blood 5-HT levels showed a significant augmentation whenever brain 5-HT levels were significantly elevated after the administration of 5-HTP in those rats with the abdominal surgical procedures. This elevation was abolished after pretreatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (fluoxetine; 10 mg/kg i.v.), although brain 5-HT levels remained augmented. These results indicate that augmented brain 5-HT can cross the BBB through the 5-HT transporter from the brain to the circulating blood.