Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Body Homeostasis and Serotonin

Science Signaling  02 Aug 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 184, pp. ec218
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4184ec218

Serotonergic neurons of the medullary brainstem have been proposed to represent important constituents of the respiratory chemoreflex, which controls breathing by detecting changes in blood CO2 concentration. These neurons have also been implicated in other homeostatic circuitry, such as the network that maintains body temperature. However, direct evidence demonstrating a requirement for serotonergic neurons in homeostasis remains limited. Ray et al. found that acute and reversible inactivation of serotonergic neurons in brainstem raphe nuclei resulted in the depression of two systemic regulatory mechanisms that are pivotal for maintaining homeostasis of body functions in mammals—chemosensitivity and thermoregulation.

R. S. Ray, A. E. Corcoran, R. D. Brust, J. C. Kim, G. B. Richerson, E. Nattie, S. M. Dymecki, Impaired respiratory and body temperature control upon acute serotonergic neuron inhibition. Science 333, 637–642 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]