The physiological and pharmacological role of presynaptic alpha- and beta-adrenoceptors in man

M J Brown, A D Struthers, Jacqueline M Burrin, Lucy Di Silvio, Diana C Brown

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    Two studies were performed each in six normal volunteers in order to find evidence of either a physiological or pharmacological role of presynaptic alpha- and presynaptic beta-adrenoceptors in man. In Study 1 subjects received a 60 min infusion of guanfacine 3 mg (alpha 2-adrenoceptor agonist) preceded by either idazoxan (alpha 2-adrenoceptor antagonist) or vehicle. Guanfacine reduced plasma noradrenaline concentration by approximately 30% and this fall was not antagonised by the alpha 2-receptor antagonist. The 30-fold increase in plasma growth hormone, measured as a marker of the central action of guanfacine, was almost completely blocked by idazoxan. A comparison of the drug concentrations of idazoxan and guanfacine, together with their relative affinities for alpha 2-adrenoceptors, suggested that the idazoxan could not block the peripheral actions of guanfacine and that these were responsible for the fall in plasma noradrenaline concentration. In Study 2 adrenaline 0.05 micrograms kg-1 min-1 was infused for 80 min preceded by either idazoxan or vehicle. After vehicle, adrenaline caused no change in plasma noradrenaline concentration whereas it rose approximately 25% after administration of idazoxan. This was probably due to unmasking of presynaptic beta-adrenoceptor stimulation by adrenaline when the opposing inhibitory autoreceptor was blocked.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)649-658
    Number of pages10
    JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1985


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