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Anesthesiology. 2003 Jul;99(1):65-70.

Systemically administered alpha2-agonist-induced peripheral vasoconstriction in humans.

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Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 94143, USA.



alpha(2)-Adrenoceptors mediate both sympatholytic and vasoconstrictive hemodynamic effects. The goal of this study was to profile the peripheral vasoconstrictive effects of a selective alpha(2)-adrenoceptor agonist in isolation from the sympatholytic effects it also induces.


The authors administered increasing plasma target concentrations of dexmedetomidine (0.075, 0.15, 0.3, and 0.6 ng/mL) or saline placebo to healthy young volunteers in whom the sympatholytic effects of the drug were attenuated in one of two ways: general anesthesia (propofol-alfentanil-nitrous oxide) or axillary brachial plexus block. Measurements were made of finger blood volume (an indicator of vasoconstriction) by photoplethysmographic determination of light transmitted through a finger (LTF) and hemodynamic variables. Measurements made before and during the four steps of infusion were compared by repeated-measures ANOVA.


In anesthetized volunteers, all concentrations of dexmedetomidine increased LTF (vasoconstriction) and systolic blood pressure (P < 0.001 for both), whereas placebo did not. In awake volunteers, all concentrations decreased systolic blood pressure (P < 0.001). Concentrations of 0.15, 0.3, and 0.6 ng/mL decreased LTF (vasodilation) in the neurally intact hand; in contrast, the same concentrations increased LTF (vasoconstriction) in the sympathectomized hand (P < 0.001 for both).


The results of this study are the first to characterize the lower end of the dose-response curve for vasoconstriction induced by dexmedetomidine. By denervating the vascular bed of interest or by decreasing sympathetic nervous system activity, the authors were able to observe vasoconstriction induced by a systemically administered alpha(2)-agonist with minimal interference from the sympatholytic effects of the drug.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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