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MSU professor earns Bowditch Award for work on hypertension
Date:3/26/2008

ophan, obtained through the diet, to make serotonin. Tryptophan is found in a variety of foods, including poultry.

Still a hypothesis

Years of research have yielded this about serotonins effect on blood vessels:

  • the blood vessels of hypertensive individuals are very sensitive to serotonin
  • hypertensive individuals have higher levels of serotonin in their blood

Molecules, known as transporters, carry serotonin to receptors in various parts of the body. Different receptors cause serotonin to do different things. There are at least 17 serotonin receptors in the human body, making it difficult to unravel exactly how serotonin works.

Dr. Watts hypothesized that since it takes less serotonin to make hypertensive blood vessels contract, that hypertensive individuals may have a higher number of receptors. This could explain why the blood vessels of hypertensive individuals react more strongly to serotonin. She experimented with one receptor and found that blocking it reduced blood pressure.

In 2006, Dr. Watts gave serotonin to both hypertensive and normal rats, reasoning that serotonin would raise blood pressure in the non-hypertensive rats and that the rats with hypertension would experience an even greater rise in blood pressure. Instead, the serotonin reduced blood pressure by 15-20% in the non-hypertensive rats and by 33% in the hypertensive animals. Dr. Watts lab has repeated the experiment with the same results.

The serotonin puzzle

So what to make of this latest finding, that serotonin lowers blood pressure when its given to both hypertensive and non-hypertensive rats" These results have Dr. Watts wondering if serotonin levels rise because serotonin is trying to reduce blood pressure.

Im wondering if hypertensive people have higher level of 5-HT because thats a good thing, Dr. Watts said. Now were trying to figure out the multiple ways 5-HT can p
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Contact: Christine Guilfoy
cguilfoy@the-aps.org
301-634-7253
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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