Spatial working memory improvement by an alpha2-adrenoceptor agonist dexmedetomidine is not mediated through alpha2C-adrenoceptor

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2001 Nov;25(8):1539-54. doi: 10.1016/s0278-5846(01)00209-3.


1. Aged alpha2C-adrenoceptor knockout and wild type mice were used to investigate whether alpha2C-adrenoceptors are involved in mediating the beneficial effects of alpha2-adrenoceptor agonist, dexmedetomidine, on spatial working memory. 2. A win-stay task in the radial arm maze was used to dissociate the effects of dexmedetomidine on working vs. reference memory. In addition, the animals were tested in simple response habit learning in the T-maze. 3. Knockout mice made more working memory errors after the change of the baited arm in radial arm maze, but after training reached again as accurate level of performance as wild type controls. Dexmedetomidine 5 and 10 microg/kg alleviated the increase in spatial working memory errors after the change of the baited arm in knockout mice. Knockout and wild type mice performed equally well in T-maze, and dexmedetomidine had no effect on this simple response learning. 4. The present results indicate that alpha2-adrenoceptor agonists have a selective effect on spatial working memory not only in monkeys but also in mice. Further, this study confirms our earlier finding that the presence of alpha2C-adrenoceptors is not necessary for the spatial working memory enhancing effect of alpha2-adrenoceptor agonists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Dexmedetomidine / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Maze Learning
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2 / physiology*
  • Spatial Behavior


  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2
  • Dexmedetomidine