Mother sporocysts of Schistosoma mansoni transport exogenously supplied serotonin (5-hydroxytrypamine; 5-HT), and respond to it with increases in motility. In the present study, we investigated the importance of 5-HT transporter activity in the manifestation of these 5-HT-induced motility changes, and further examined the role of 5-HT in the development of daughter sporocysts in vitro. Serotonin-induced motility of in vitro-derived sporocysts is not inhibited by antidepressant compounds, e.g., fluoxetine, that block 5-HT transport, suggesting that the receptors responsible for motility responses to 5-HT are surface exposed. Using a sporocyst in vitro culture system, we show that depletion of larval stores of 5-HT reduces production of daughter sporocysts, the second intramolluscan larval stage. Moreover, we demonstrate a strong correlation between endogenous 5-HT levels and basal mother sporocyst muscle activity. Overall, these data suggest that larval stages of S. mansoni can detect exogenous 5-HT via surface-exposed receptors, and they are consistent with the hypothesis that endogenous stores of 5-HT are important for the proper regulation of muscular contractions in mother sporocysts, and for the successful emergence of daughter sporocysts.

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