Intravenous administration of 5-hydroxytryptamine to rabbits and guinea pigs is shown to bring about changes very similar to those produced by (+) air ions, including (1) decreased ciliary rate, (2) contraction of the posterior tracheal wall, (3) exaggerated response of the tracheal mucosa to trauma, (4) marked vasoconstriction in the tracheal wall, and (5) increased respiratory rate. These effects are reversed by (-) air ions. Iproniazid, which raises 5-hydroxytryptamine levels in the animal by blocking monamine oxidase, produces similar but non-reversible effects. Reserpine, which depletes 5-hydroxytryptamine in the animal, causes changes that resemble those produced by (-) air ions, including (1) increased ciliary rate, (2) relaxed posterior sulcus, (3) hyperemia of the tracheal mucosa, (4) lowered respiratory rate, and (5) increased volume and rate of mucus flow.
On the basis of these facts, the hypothesis is advanced that (+) air ion effects are mediated by the release of free 5-hydroxytryptamine, while (-) air ion effects depend on the ability of (-) ions to accelerate the enzymatic oxidation of 5-hydroxytryptamine.