AsianScientist (May 24, 2019) – A team of scientists in India has found that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a role in generating new mitochondria in neurons. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mitochondria in neurons generate energy to enable cellular functions and regulate neuronal survival under conditions of stress. However, the precise mechanisms that link mitochondria activity to neuronal function remain unclear.
In the present study, researchers led by Professors Vidita Vaidya and Ullas Kolthur-Seetharam at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India, has found that serotonin is involved in the generation of new mitochondria—a process called mitochondrial biogenesis—in neurons.
The team showed that serotonin inhibits the production of toxic reactive oxygen species in neurons, boosts their levels of antioxidant enzymes, and buffers neurons from the damaging effects of cellular stress. Probing deeper, they demonstrated that serotonin binds to the serotonin2A receptor, which triggers downstream activation of SIRT1 and PGC-1α, proteins which are known as master regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis.
Since mitochondrial function in neurons is vital in determining how neurons cope with stress and the trajectory of aging, the researchers think that their findings could lead to the identification of novel drug targets for the treatment of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.
The article can be found at: Fanibunda et al. (2019) Serotonin Regulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Function in Rodent Cortical Neurons via the 5-HT2A Receptor and SIRT1–PGC-1α Axis.
Source: Tata Institute of Fundamental Research; Photo: Shutterstock.
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