The effects of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) on the internal anal sphincter were studied in anaesthesized rats. Serotonin induced a dose dependent relaxation of the internal anal sphincter. Methysergide blocked this relaxation, but did not affect the rectoanal reflex. Methysergide did not antagonise the actions of cholinergic and adrenergic agonists on the internal anal sphincter. Other 5-HT antagonists such as cyproheptadine, ketanserin, chlorpromazine, amitriptyline and ergotamine failed to reduce or block the internal anal sphincter relaxation due to 5-HT, nor did they alter the rectoanal reflex. Adrenergic and cholinergic antagonists had no effect on the 5-HT-induced relaxation of the internal anal sphincter, suggesting that 5-HT acts upon the internal anal sphincter via a non-adrenergic, non-cholinergic mechanism. Tetrodotoxin reduced or blocked the relaxation of the internal anal sphincter produced by 5-HT, implying that 5-HT acts through neural pathways rather than directly on the muscle. It is concluded that although 5-HT relaxes the internal anal sphincter, it does not participate in the rectoanal reflex.
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