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

Action of dexmedetomidine on rat locus coeruleus neurones: intracellular recording in vitro.

The action of dexmedetomidine on rat locus coeruleus neurones was examined using intracellular recordings from the in vitro brain slice preparation. Concentrations of dexmedetomidine from 1 to 1000 nM were tested. At 30 nM, dexmedetomidine produced complete inhibition of firing of all neurones tested (n = 21); this was associated with a 13 mV hyperpolarization (range 2.2-29.7 mV, n = 21) and a 27% reduction in input resistance (range 11.1-46.2%, n = 17). The dexmedetomidine responses reached a plateau phase between 100 and 1000 nM. Based on single-cell recordings, the hyperpolarizing potency of dexmedetomidine was found to be 6 times greater than that of clonidine (n = 10). The reversal potential for the dexmedetomidine-induced hyperpolarization was -106.9 +/- 1.7 mV (n = 9), a value similar to the K+ equilibrium potential; hyperpolarization was blocked by both CsCl and BaCl2. The effect of dexmedetomidine was antagonized by yohimbine, with a dissociation equilibrium constant of 30 nM. In contrast, prazosin, the alpha 1-, alpha 2B- and alpha 2C-adrenoceptor subtype-preferring ligand, did not inhibit the dexmedetomidine effect. Our results also show that low concentrations of oxymetazoline (10-300 nM), an alpha 2A-adrenoceptor subtype-selective drug, cause profound inhibition of neuronal activity in the locus coeruleus. These data therefore suggest that dexmedetomidine binds to alpha 2A-adrenoceptors on the cell membrane of neurones of the locus coeruleus and that this leads to opening of the inwardly rectifying K+ channels, resulting in the observed hyperpolarization of the membrane.[1]


  1. Action of dexmedetomidine on rat locus coeruleus neurones: intracellular recording in vitro. Chiu, T.H., Chen, M.J., Yang, Y.R., Yang, J.J., Tang, F.I. Eur. J. Pharmacol. (1995) [Pubmed]
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