Sugar responses of human enterochromaffin cells depend on gut region, sex, and body mass

Amanda L. Lumsden, Alyce M. Martin, Emily W.L. Sun, Gudrun Schober, Nicole J. Isaacs, Nektaria Pezos, David A. Wattchow, Dayan de Fontgalland, Philippa Jane Rabbitt, Paul Hollington, Luigi A. Sposato, Steven L. Due, Christopher K. Rayner, Nam Quoc Nguyen, Alice P. Liou, Vivienne M. Jackson, Richard L Young, Damien J. Keating

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Gut-derived serotonin (5-HT) is released from enterochromaffin (EC) cells in response to nutrient cues, and acts to slow gastric emptying and modulate gastric motility. Rodent studies also evidence a role for gut-derived 5-HT in the control of hepatic glucose production, lipolysis and thermogenesis, and in mediating diet-induced obesity. EC cell number and 5-HT content is increased in the small intestine of obese rodents and human, however, it is unknown whether EC cells respond directly to glucose in humans, and whether their capacity to release 5-HT is perturbed in obesity. We therefore investigated 5-HT release from human duodenal and colonic EC cells in response to glucose, sucrose, fructose and α-glucoside (αMG) in relation to body mass index (BMI). EC cells released 5-HT only in response to 100 and 300 mM glucose (duodenum) and 300 mM glucose (colon), independently of osmolarity. Duodenal, but not colonic, EC cells also released 5-HT in response to sucrose and αMG, but did not respond to fructose. 5-HT content was similar in all EC cells in males, and colonic EC cells in females, but 3 to 4-fold higher in duodenal EC cells from overweight females (p < 0.05 compared to lean, obese). Glucose-evoked 5-HT release was 3-fold higher in the duodenum of overweight females (p < 0.05, compared to obese), but absent here in overweight males. Our data demonstrate that primary human EC cells respond directly to dietary glucose cues, with regional differences in selectivity for other sugars. Augmented glucose-evoked 5-HT release from duodenal EC is a feature of overweight females, and may be an early determinant of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number234
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • serotonin
  • 5-hydroxytryptamine
  • glucose
  • enterochromaffin
  • obesity
  • duodenum
  • Obesity
  • Duodenum
  • Serotonin
  • Glucose
  • Enterochromaffin
  • Colon
  • 5-HT


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