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Neuroendocrinology. 1989 Sep;50(3):286-91.

Yohimbine increases cerebrospinal fluid and plasma norepinephrine but not arginine vasopressin in humans.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle.


Previous studies have demonstrated alpha 2-inhibitory regulation of central nervous system (CNS) noradrenergic and arginine vasopressinergic systems. We tested the hypothesis that alpha 2-inhibition of CNS noradrenergic and vasopressinergic systems is tonic in nature by measuring the response of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) norepinephrine (NE) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) to the alpha 2-antagonist yohimbine in 7 young normal male human subjects. We also evaluated the tonic nature of alpha 2-inhibition of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and of AVP release into plasma by measuring the response of plasma NE and plasma AVP to yohimbine. CSF NE was significantly higher following yohimbine as compared to placebo. In contrast CSF AVP did not differ between yohimbine and placebo conditions. Similarly, plasma NE was significantly higher following yohimbine as compared to placebo, while plasma AVP was unchanged. These results support a tonic alpha 2-inhibitory regulatory mechanism for both CNS noradrenergic systems and sympathetic outflow. Such tonic alpha 2-inhibition could not be demonstrated for regulation of AVP levels in CSF or plasma in humans.

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