What does serotonin regulate?
The neurotransmitter serotonin is involved in the regulation of numerous processes in the body. It binds to so-called serotonin receptors, of which there are several types, each of which is responsible for different processes in the body. For these to run smoothly, a correspondingly high serotonin level is required. However, if there is a serotonin deficiency, various complaints or diseases can occur, some of which can be treated by increasing the serotonin level. But what processes in the body does serotonin regulate?
In which processes is serotonin involved?
Its very name indicates one of the important processes supported by this neurotransmitter in the human body: Among other things, the neurotransmitter regulates tone, that is, the pressure within the blood vessels. This process is very complex and can be observed in different directions depending on where the neurotransmitter is located. While in skeletal muscles it is mainly needed to dilate blood vessels, in organs such as the lungs and kidneys it causes blood vessels to constrict. Serotonin, which is found in the blood platelets (thrombocytes), supports blood clotting by constricting the blood vessels, so that bleeding caused by injury can be stopped more quickly. The neurotransmitter also regulates intraocular pressure, which is why the risk of glaucoma increases when selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are taken. These drugs cause the concentration of serotonin in the brain to increase or be maintained for a longer period of time.
Serotonin regulates: Processes in the gastrointestinal tract
The largest amount of serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal tract. There, the neurotransmitter influences food intake on the one hand through its appetite-suppressing effect, and on the other hand it regulates the intestinal movements (peristalsis) needed to digest food. In some cases, it can cause nausea and vomiting. It is also capable of influencing pain perception, thereby attenuating or intensifying pain stimuli. In addition, the neurotransmitter can cause an increase or decrease in body temperature - depending on the type of receptor it binds to.
Serotonin regulates: Processes in the brain
However, the neurotransmitter is best known for its effect in the brain, where it regulates very different processes. In addition to its effects on mood, because of which serotonin is also popularly known as the "happiness hormone," it plays an important role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. In this context, it is primarily responsible for promoting the waking state - in contrast to the sleep hormone melatonin, which is formed from serotonin and controls sleep.
Conclusion on serotonin regulation
Serotonin is much more than just a "happiness hormone", as it is colloquially referred to. It regulates a variety of important processes in the body, including blood vessel pressure and intraocular pressure, appetite and intestinal movements, body temperature and sleep-wake rhythm, and has an influence on pain perception.