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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Clonidine increases caspase-3 mRNA level and DNA fragmentation in the developing rat brainstem.

The densities of alpha2-adrenergic receptors, labeled by 3H-clonidine or 3H-RX821002, reach a peak in the rat brainstem during the first week of its life. This enables the agonist of alpha2-adrenergic receptor clonidine, which is used as a component of anaesthetic solution in infants and children, to have specific effects in this structure of the developing brain. Clonidine was injected into the fetal brain (5 microg in 5 microl of saline) or subcutaneously to the pups (1, 10 microg in 50 microl of saline) 3 days before investigation. Clonidine increased the level of apoptotic enzyme caspase-3 mRNA expression, as measured by RT-PCR and enhanced the DNA fragmentation, as determined by gel electrophoresis, in the brainstem of the 21-day-old fetuses and 8-day-old rats. In the cortex of 8-day-old rat, the alpha2-adrenergic receptors are at a much lower level than the brainstem. Clonidine treatment had no evident effects on caspase-3 mRNA level and DNA fragmentation in the cortex of an 8-day-old rat. The data suggest that clonidine facilitates cell death in the developing brainstem. This drug effect provides a potential mechanism whereby clonidine during early life could induce long-lasting alterations in brain neurochemistry, autonomic functions and behavior.[1]


  1. Clonidine increases caspase-3 mRNA level and DNA fragmentation in the developing rat brainstem. Dygalo, N.N., Bannova, A.V., Kalinina, T.S., Shishkina, G.T. Brain Res. Dev. Brain Res. (2004) [Pubmed]
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