An examination is made of the hypothesis that endogenous 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) serves as a local hormone regulating ciliary activity in the lamellibranch gill. These cilia are sensitive to exogenous 5-HT and respond to it by a prompt, sustained, and reversible rise in beat frequency; at the same time the carbohydrate metabolism is stimulated, as described elsewhere. Control gill contains small but definite amounts of endogenous 5-HT according to bioassay, fluorometry, and chromatography. The amount can be increased markedly by exposing the isolated gill to the precursor substance 5-hydroxytryptophan but not l-tryptophan. As the tissue level of 5-HT rises, the spontaneous beat frequency also rises. Both remain elevated for hours and perhaps for days. The gill of Mytilus edulis is richer than the gill of Modiolus demissus in both endogenous 5-HT and effective 5-hydroxytryptophan decarboxylase activity. Modiolus gill lacks the 5-hydroxyindole oxidase by which Mytilus gill destroys 5-HT. What if any mechanism exists in Modiolus for degrading 5-HT is not known, but monoamine oxidase is not present. The 5-HT content of Mytilus and Modiolus gill cannot be modified by treatment with reserpine or α-methyl-dopa. Which cells of the gill synthesize and destroy 5-HT has not been established, but these observations support the concept that the physiological activity of lamellibranch gill cilia is controlled by a serotonergic mechanism.

This content is only available as a PDF.