Recent developments in noradrenergic neurotransmission and its relevance to the mechanism of action of certain antihypertensive agents.
This report reviews a number of significant developments in the fields of noradrenergic transmission and adrenergic receptors which suggest that, in addition to the classical postsynaptic adrenoceptors, there are also presynaptic adrenoceptors that help modulate the release of norepinephrine (NE) from peripheral as well as central noradrenergic nerve endings during nerve stimulation. In particular, stimulation of presynaptic alpha-adrenoceptors reduces this release of transmitter and the reverse is observed after blockade of these receptors. Clearcut pharmacological differences exist between the postsynaptic alpha 1-adrenoceptors that mediate the responses of certain organs and the presynaptic alpha 2-adrenoceptors that modulate the NE release during nerve stimulation. Therefore, subclassification of alpha-adrenoceptors into alpha 1 and alpha 2 subtypes is warranted but must be considered to be independent of the anatomical location of these receptors. Some noradrenergic nerve endings have also been shown to possess beta-adrenergic receptors, the stimulation of which increases the quantity of transmitter released by nerve impulses. Physiologically, these receptors could be activated by circulating epinephrine (E) and be involved in essential hypertension. A third type of catecholamine receptor found at the noradrenergic nerve ending is the inhibitory dopamine (DA) receptor, which might be of significance in the development of new antihypertensive agents. Application of these new concepts of noradrenergic neurotransmission and the subclassification of alpha-adrenoceptors to the treatment of hypertension is presented. Clonidine, for example, appears to be a potent alpha 2-adrenoceptor agonist; the central receptor involved in its antihypertensive action is pharmacologically an alpha 2-type but located postsynaptically. Clonidine also induces activation of peripheral presynaptic alpha 2-adrenoceptors, which might contribute to its cardiovascular action. The antihypertensive effects of alpha-methyldopa are related to the formation of alpha-methylnorepinephrine, a preferential alpha 2-adrenoceptor agonist, which can stimulate peripheral presynaptic alpha 2-adrenoceptors leading to a decrease of NE release and a reduction in sympathetic tone. Prazosin is a new antihypertensive agent the mechanism of action of which involves a selective blockade of postsynaptic alpha 1-adrenoceptors. This drug does not antagonize several effects of clonidine that are mediated via alpha 2-adrenoceptors. The mechanisms presently considered to account for the antihypertensive activity of beta-adrenoceptor blocking agents are numerous. It is proposed that blockade of peripheral presynaptic facilitatory beta-adrenoceptors could be of significance in the antihypertensive action of these drugs.
- Copyright © 1980 by American Heart Association