Effects of clonidine on renal sympathetic nerve activity and norepinephrine spillover

M. Garty, A. Deka-Starosta, P. Chang, I. J. Kopin, D. S. Goldstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The antihypertensive action of clonidine (CLO) depends mainly on decreased release of the sympathetic neurotransmitter, norepinephrine (NE), at vascular neuroeffector junctions. The decreased release can be due to stimulation of alpha-2 adrenoceptors or other receptors in the brain or due to stimulation of presynaptic inhibitory alpha-2 adrenoceptors on sympathetic nerve endings. To compare central and peripheral contributions to the depressor action of CLO, renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) and renal spillover of NE (RNEs) were measured at baseline and during reflexive increases in RSNA evoked by nitroprusside-induced hypotension (27, 50 and 105 μg/kg/min) before and after CLO treatment in adrenal-demedullated, anesthetized rats. Administration of CLO decreased RSNA by 52 ± 8% and RNEs by 32 ± 13% (means ± S.E.M.). At levels of RSNA less than 50% above control, there were no significant changes in RNEs; above this level of activity RNEs increased, regardless of CLO treatment. CLO treatment did not alter significantly the relationship between increases in RSNA and in RNEs during nitroprusside-induced hypotension. The results suggest that in neurologically intact, anesthetized animals, CLO decreases renal NE release mainly by inhibiting sympathetic outflow, with little if any peripheral presynaptic action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1068-1075
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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