The involvement of serotonin metabolism in cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress in rat lung in vivo

Kwok Wai LAU, Xiang LI, Dave Sze-Chun YEUNG, Ka-Ho CHAN, Mary Sau-Man IP, Judith Choi-Wo MAK

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Recently, we have reported the dysregulation of circulating serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) homeostasis in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). An increase in metabolism of 5-HT has been reported to induce oxidative stress via monoamine oxidase (MAO)-dependent pathway. The present study aimed at investigating the effect of cigarette smoke exposure on the systemic circulation and local airway 5-HT levels as well as MAO-mediated oxidative pathway using a cigarette smoke-exposed rat model. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (150-200 g) were exposed to either sham air or 4% (v/v, smoke/air) cigarette smoke for 1 hour daily for 56 consecutive days. Sera, bronchoalveolar larvage (BAL) and lung tissues were collected 24 hours after the last exposure. We found a significant reduction in the reduced glutathione (rGSH) and an elevation in advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP), a protein oxidation marker, in the lung of cigarette smoke-exposed group (< 0.05). A significant increase in 5-HT was found in serum (< 0.05), but not in the BAL or lung, after cigarette smoke exposure. MAO-A activity was significantly elevated in the lung of cigarette smoke-exposed group (< 0.05). Furthermore, increased superoxide anion levels were found in lung homogenates of cigarette smoke-exposed rats after incubation with 5-HT (< 0.05), which was positively associated with the increase in MAO-A activity (r = 0.639, < 0.05). Our findings supported the presence of GSH disruption and protein oxidation in the lung after cigarette smoke exposure. The metabolism of 5-HT by MAO-A in the lung enhanced cigarette smoke-induced superoxides, which might contribute to the pathogenesis of COPD. Copyright © 2012 Informa UK, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1413-1419
JournalFree Radical Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


Oxidative stress
Tobacco Products
Oxidative Stress
Monoamine Oxidase
Pulmonary diseases
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Advanced Oxidation Protein Products
Sprague Dawley Rats


Lau, W. K.-W., Li, X., Yeung, D. S.-C., Chan, K.-H., Ip, M. S.-M., & Mak, J. C.-W. (2012). The involvement of serotonin metabolism in cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress in rat lung in vivo. Free Radical Research, 46(11), 1413-1419. doi: 10.3109/10715762.2012.721928


  • 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)
  • Advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO)
  • Superoxide anion