Research Topic

Demystifying Serotonin: Molecules, Circuits, and Behaviors

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The neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) affects numerous developmental, physiological, and behavioral processes. Drugs that alter 5-HT signaling treat several major psychiatric disorders and may lead to widespread abuse. A small number of serotonin neurons in the brainstem project their ...

The neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) affects numerous developmental, physiological, and behavioral processes. Drugs that alter 5-HT signaling treat several major psychiatric disorders and may lead to widespread abuse. A small number of serotonin neurons in the brainstem project their axons extensively to almost every region of the central nervous system. In recent years, we witnessed dramatic progress that has substantially enhanced our understanding of the functions of 5-HT and the underlying molecular, cellular, physiological, and circuit mechanisms. These advances were made possible with new genetic tools and resources as well as revolutionary new technologies that allow unprecedented precision and efficiency for the recording and manipulation of neuronal activity. Here, we propose to invite leading experts on 5-HT research to review their findings, ranging from its development to its role in regulating adult behaviors.

1. Genetic control of central 5-HT development.
2. Role of central 5-HT in the development of brain circuits.
3. 5-HT regulation of adult neurogenesis and its implications in learning and memory.
4. Reprogramming human ES cells into 5-HT neurons.
5. Dissecting the direct inputs to 5-HT neurons with transsynaptic viral tracing technique.
6. Roles and circuit mechanisms of the central 5-HT system in reward processing and drug abuse.
7. Roles and mechanism of the central 5-HT system in behavioral homeostasis, including thermal regulation, food intake, and sociosexual behaviors.
8. The relationship between central 5-HT levels and the etiology and treatment of depression. Recent data challenge the monoamine hypothesis in depression, and new model has been proposed. That is, intact 5-HT system is required for the antidepressant effects or first-line antidepressant drugs (specific serotonin reuptake inhibitor), but central 5-HT deficit is not sufficient to induce depression. This is a critical issue, because it directly points or closely relates to direction of developing new drugs in treating depression.


Keywords: serotonin, development, circuit, behavior, psychiatric disorders


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