Certain bacteria in the gut are important for the production of serotonin, which is well known as a brain neurotransmitter, the findings showed.In fact, altered levels of this peripheral serotonin have also been linked to diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.

Peripheral serotonin is produced in the digestive tract by enterochromaffin (EC) cells and also by particular types of immune cells and neurons.While previous work in the field indicated that some bacteria can make serotonin all by themselves, this new study suggests that much of the body's serotonin relies on particular bacteria that interact with the host to produce serotonin, Yano noted.

The researchers wanted to find out whether specific species of bacteria, out of the diverse pool of microbes that inhabit the gut, are interacting with EC cells to make serotonin.They identified several particular metabolites -- products of the microbes' metabolism that were regulated by spore-forming bacteria and that elevated serotonin from EC cells in culture.

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