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June 2, 1956


JAMA. 1956;161(5):460-461. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970050062015

Recent reports that carcinoid tumors may be rich in serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) and that certain antagonists of serotonin evoke unusual mental changes have stimulated interest in the pharmacological and physiological actions of this interesting compound, a normal constituent of the body.

The isolation and identification of serotonin from body tissues was effected independently by two groups of workers. Erspamer1 and his associates were interested in isolating the substance responsible for the histochemical properties of the enterochromaffin cells of the gastrointestinal tract. They named this substance enteramine and in 1952 identified it as 5-hydroxytryptamine. Meanwhile, Page2 and his associates had succeeded in isolating and identifying as 5-hydroxytryptamine a substance from blood serum long known to possess vasoconstrictive properties. This substance had previously been known by a variety of names, including serotonin and vasotonin. Subsequently, serotonin was shown to be present in the brain, the highest concentrations being found in areas