Central hypotensive action of clonidine requires nitric oxide

Lawrence W. Dobrucki, Camilo L. Cabrera, David F. Bohr, Tadeusz Malinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background - Clonidine has an antihypertensive effect by its action in the brain and, because we observed that the tonic production of nitric oxide (NO) in the brain is required to maintain blood pressure at its low, normotensive level, the current study was designed to determine whether the hypotensive action of clonidine resulted from its stimulation of excess NO in the brain. Methods and Results - Porphyritic microsensors were used to quantify NO concentration in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) in vitro in brain slices and in vivo in the anesthetized rat. In both preparations, the basal production of NO in the NTS was 15±3 nmol/L. In vitro stimulation of the NTS with clonidine (50 nmol/L) resulted in an increase in the NO concentration to 84±7 nmol/L. In vivo, the intracerebroventricular (ICV) infusion of clonidine (0.03 μg) caused an increase in NO concentration in the NTS to 128±17 nmol/L. This ICV injection of clonidine caused a fall in mean arterial pressure of -22±1 mm Hg and a decrease of heart rate of -18±2%. The blockade of NO production with NG-nitro-L-arginine-methyl ester (2 μmol; delivered ICV, 30 minutes before the clonidine) reduced responses to clonidine for both mean arterial pressure and heart rate (-3±1 mm Hg and -2±1% change, respectively). Conclusion - The stimulation of the release of NO in the brain by clonidine contributes to its central antihypertensive action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1884-1886
Number of pages3
Issue number16
StatePublished - Oct 16 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain
  • Clonidine
  • Hypertension
  • Nitric oxide
  • Solitary nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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