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Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1983;16 Suppl 1:17S-27S.

Preclinical pharmacology of midazolam.


Midazolam, a new imidazobenzodiazepine, forms salts that are stable in water solution, and has an overall pharmacological potency similar to that of diazepam but a much shorter duration of action. It produces all the characteristic effects of the benzodiazepine class. Its metabolites account for only a negligible part, if any, of its pharmacological effects observed in the mouse. The time course of its anticonvulsant activity, studied with different experimental protocols and by different routes of administration, revealed an almost immediate onset of action. Midazolam was slightly more potent, and its duration of action was shorter than diazepam, in enhancing presynaptic inhibition in the spinal cord of cats and in depressing spontaneous activity of cerebellar Purkinje cells in the rat. Midazolam decreased spontaneous multiunit activity (MUA) in different nuclei of the brain in 'encéphale isolé' rats. This depression was reversed by Ro 15-1788, a recently discovered selective benzodiazepine antagonist. Midazolam and diazepam decreased the cyclic GMP level in the cerebellum of rats with about the same potency; the effect of midazolam was of much shorter duration than that of diazepam. Midazolam had one-third the potency of diazepam in displacing 3H-flunitrazepam in mouse brain in vivo, and also in this case the effect of midazolam was of brief duration, as compared with diazepam. Midazolam in therapeutic doses was virtually ineffective in the cardiovascular system of conscious dogs after p.o. or i.v. administration. No direct effects of the drug on autonomic functions were found. The animal data suggest the usefulness of midazolam as an oral sleep-inducer, as an agent for i.v. induction of anaesthesia and as an i.v. or i.m. anticonvulsant in status epilepticus or tetanus, because of its rapid onset of action and its excellent local tolerance as water-soluble injection form.

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