The neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT), widely distributed in the central nervous system (CNS), is involved in a large variety of physiological functions. In several brain regions 5-HT is diffusely released by volume transmission and behaves as a neuromodulator rather than as a "classical" neurotransmitter. In some cases 5-HT is co-localized in the same nerve terminal with other neurotransmitters and reciprocal interactions take place. This review will focus on the modulatory action of 5-HT on the effects of glutamate and γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA), which are the principal neurotransmitters mediating respectively excitatory and inhibitory signals in the CNS. Examples of interaction at preand/ or post-synaptic levels will be illustrated, as well as the receptors involved and their mechanisms of action. Finally, the physiological meaning of neuromodulatory effects of 5-HT will be briefly discussed with respect to pathologies deriving from malfunctioning of serotonin system.
Keywords: Serotonin, neuromodulation, GABA, glutamate, cognition, nociception, motor control
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