Dietary L-Tryptophan Regulates Colonic Serotonin Homeostasis in Mice with Dextran Sodium Sulfate-Induced Colitis Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: L-tryptophan (Trp) has been reported to regulate gut immune responses during inflammation. However, the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the role of Trp supplementation on the serotonin receptor (HTR)-mediated immune response in the colon of mice with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis. METHODS: In Experiment 1, male C57BL/6 mice were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups: Control (Con) or L-Trp supplementation [0.1 mg/(g body weight·d) in drinking water] (Trp) with (+DSS) or without 2% DSS in drinking water from days 8 to 14 of the 17-d study. In Experiments 2 and 3, Trp + DSS (Expt. 2) or DSS (Expt. 3) mice were treated as described above and subcutaneously administered with HTR1A or HTR4 antagonists (or their combination) or an HTR2 agonist from days 8 to 14 of the 15-d study. Changes in immune cell phenotypes, inflammatory mediators, and related cell signaling molecules were assessed by flow cytometry, real-time PCR, or Western blot. The mRNA abundances of Trp hydroxylase (Tph1), serotonin reuptake transporter (Slc6a4), and Htr in the colon were also assessed. RESULTS: Trp supplementation before DSS treatment upregulated the expression of colonic Slc6a4 (0.49 compared with 0.30), Htr1a (1.14 compared with 0.65), and Htr4 (1.08 compared with 0.70), downregulated the expression of Htr2a (1.54 compared with 1.89), and decreased the colonic serotonin concentration (11.5 compared with 14.8 nmol/g tissue) (P < 0.01). Trp regulated the DSS-induced immune response partly through attenuating the activation of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-STAT3 signaling and nucleus p-65. Either an HTR2 agonist or HTR1A and HTR4 antagonists reversed the effects of Trp. CONCLUSIONS: In mice treated with DSS, Trp supplementation before DSS administration improved colonic immune responses partly by reducing colonic serotonin and subsequent interactions with HTR1A and HTR4, which are known to be present on neutrophils and macrophages.

altmetric score

  • 5.33

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, B., Sun, S., Liu, M., Chen, H., Liu, N., Wu, Z., Wu, G., & Dai, Z.

citation count

  • 8

publication date

  • January 1, 2020 11:11 AM
  • May 2020