Serotonin and the flow properties of blood

R. T. Walker, A. Matrai, L. Bogar, J. A. Dormandy

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The effects of serotonin and its pharmacological antagonists on the physical flow properties of the blood have been studied far less than their effects on blood vessels, although they may be equally important. Indirect evidence suggests that in pathological circumstances serotonin may locally increase whole blood viscosity, particularly at low shear rates, decrease red cell deformability and increase the adhesiveness of white cells. Although the viscosity of the plasma alone is not affected, the rheological effects of serotonin on blood cells is probably dependent on the presence of platelets. These mechanisms may have a systemic effect in some forms of hypertension as well as in situations of local ischaemia such as Raynaud’s phenomenon. atherosclerotic pregangrene of the leg or acute myocardial infarction. Specific serotonergie-antagonists, administered either orally or intravenously, normalize the increased whole blood viscosity and decreased blood filterability found in essential hypertension, following myocardial infarction and in severe leg ischaemia. The effect on red cell deformability is usually greatest when the cells are resuspended in platelet rich plasma. Ketanserin given intravenously for seven days to patients with very severe leg ischaemia, significantly improves whole blood viscosity, increases red cell transit time and most dramatically decreases pore clogging. This last effect was at least partly due to a change in the physical properties, but not the number of the white cells. The reported beneficial clinical effects of such an antagonist in various forms of peripheral ischaemia and essential hypertension may well be due. at least partly. to the normalization of the rheological properties of the blood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S35-S37
JournalJournal of cardiovascular pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1985



  • Deformahility
  • Erythrocytes
  • Hypertension
  • Ischemia
  • Ketanserin viscosity
  • White blood cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this

Walker, R. T., Matrai, A., Bogar, L., & Dormandy, J. A. (1985). Serotonin and the flow properties of blood. Journal of cardiovascular pharmacology, 7, S35-S37.