Prostaglandins and Serotonin in Diarrheogenic Syndromes

  • B. M. Jaffe
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 106)


Infusion of prostaglandins E2 and F2α (PGE2 and PGF2α) in man causes diarrhea1,2. This effect is due to alterations in both intestinal motility and absorption of water and electrolytes. By virtue of their direct effects on intestinal smooth muscle cells, PGE2 and PGF2α contract the longitudinal smooth muscle, but, in addition, PGF2α also contracts the circular smooth muscle layer3,4,5. The increased motility is manifested by abdominal cramps6 and shortened intestinal transit time7. In addition, PGE compounds have been shown to enhance intestinal secretion rather than absorption of water and electrolytes8–11, an effect which appears to be mediated by cyclic nucleotides12,13. This secretory phenomenon contributes significantly to the prostaglandin-induced watery diarrhea. Because of their substantial diarrheogenic properties, we have investigated the role of PGE and PGF compounds in a number of diarrheogenic syndromes. Despite early observations that levels of bioassayable PGF compounds were elevated in a number of endocrine tumors and in the plasma of patients harboring these tumors14,15, we have consistently found better correlation between diarrhea and circulating levels of PGE.


Medullary Carcinoma Carcinoid Syndrome Islet Cell Tumor Intestinal Transit Time Longitudinal Smooth Muscle 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. M. Jaffe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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