Serotonin Activates Bacterial Quorum Sensing and Enhances the Virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the Host

Leslie D. Knecht, Gregory O'Connor, Rahul Mittal, Xue Z Liu, Pirouz Daftarian, Sapna K Deo, Sylvia Daunert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Bacteria in humans play an important role in health and disease. Considerable emphasis has been placed in understanding the role of bacteria in host-microbiome interkingdom communication. Here we show that serotonin, responsible for mood in the brain and motility in the gut, can also act as a bacterial signaling molecule for pathogenic bacteria. Specifically, we found that serotonin acts as an interkingdom signaling molecule via quorum sensing and that it stimulates the production of bacterial virulence factors and increases biofilm formation in vitro and in vivo in a novel mouse infection model. This discovery points out at roles of serotonin both in bacteria and humans, and at phenotypic implications not only manifested in mood behavior but also in infection processes in the host. Thus, regulating serotonin concentrations in the gut may provide with paradigm shifting therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - Feb 2 2016



  • N-acyl homoserine lactone
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Host-microbiome interactions
  • Interkingdom signaling molecule
  • Las pathway
  • Quorum sensing
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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