Low Serotonin Levels Linked to Constipation and Depression

May 10, 2019 | CNS, Constipation, Depression, Serotonin


Unlike anxiety, depression is arguably harder to deal with.  It severely affects the mind and the body, leading to conditions such as chronic constipation.  Though in a recent issue of Gastroenterology, a study conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center found that low levels of serotonin in the brain contributes to constipation as well as depression by experimenting on mice.  In particular, these mice carried a mutation in their genetics “That impairs the ability of neurons in the brain and the gut to make serotonin” which causes severe depression according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.  

But what the researchers discovered was that low serotonin levels in the gut caused constipation in the mice.  In addition to this discovery, the researchers used the drug form of 5-HTP and slowly released it into the mice’s bodies overtime to increase their serotonin levels.  The results of this were positive as it did raise “Serotonin levels in the gut’s neurons and alleviated constipation in the mice” Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News says.  What this indicates is a possible avenue for treatment regarding patients who are suffering from issues in the brain as well as the gut.

About Serotonin

Known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (C10H12N2O), it is a neurotransmitter that serves a number of purposes within the brain.  At a glance, it’s responsible for feelings like happiness and feeling good mentally.  It also modulates basic brain functions such as cognition, memory, reward, and learning.

About 5-HTP

Described as “A precursor of serotonin” by Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, it is an abbreviation of 5-Hydroxytryptophan (C11H12N2O3) or oxitriptan.  In drug form, it’s used as an antidepressant despite the lack of clinical study, and some side-effects it has include: drowsiness, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and heartburn.

About Columbia University Medical Center

Also known as the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, it is located in the northern part of Manhattan in New York City.  Here, four colleges reside that do scientific research medical education as well as patient care. These colleges in turn are: the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing, and the Mailman School of Public Health.


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