Pharmacological evidence for heterogeneity of ocular alpha 2 adrenoceptors

Curr Eye Res. 1992 Oct;11(10):963-70. doi: 10.3109/02713689209033494.


Previous studies have shown that ocular alpha 2 adrenoceptors are located prejunctionally on sympathetic neurons and postjunctionally on cells in the iris/ciliary body. While the activation of alpha 2 adrenoceptors at each site has been postulated to alter aqueous humor dynamics, little is known about the pharmacological characteristics of these receptors or their role in the modulation of anterior segment function. The purpose of the current study was to determine the possible heterogeneity of ocular alpha 2 adrenoceptors using relatively selective alpha 2 adrenoceptor agonists and antagonists to examine ocular pre- and postjunctional alpha 2 adrenoceptors. Prejunctional alpha 2 effects were evaluated by means of the cat nictitating membrane (CNM) preparation. Postjunctional alpha 2 effects were evaluated by means of the cAMP assay in rabbit iris root/ciliary body. In the CNM, the administration of UK-14, 304 (UK) produced a dose-related inhibition of neuronally mediated contractions. Pretreatment with the alpha 2 antagonist rauwolscine caused a 1 to 2 log unit right shift in the dose-response curve of UK in the CNM. However, pretreatment with alpha 2 antagonist SKF 104078 had no demonstrable effect on UK-induced inhibition of neuronally mediated contractions of the CNM. In the rabbit iris root/ciliary body, UK produced a concentration-dependent inhibition of cAMP accumulation on isoproterenol- and VIP-induced cAMP production. Pretreatment of iris root/ciliary bodies with SKF 104078 or rauwolscine reversed the inhibitory effect of UK on isoproterenol- and VIP-induced accumulation of cAMP. These data provide the first evidence that the pre- and postjunctional alpha 2 adrenoceptors represent pharmacologically distinct subpopulations of receptors in the eye.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists / pharmacology
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Brimonidine Tartrate
  • Cats
  • Ciliary Body / innervation*
  • Ciliary Body / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Iris / innervation*
  • Iris / metabolism
  • Nictitating Membrane / drug effects
  • Quinoxalines / pharmacology
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha / metabolism
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Yohimbine / pharmacology


  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Benzazepines
  • Quinoxalines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha
  • SK&F 104078
  • Yohimbine
  • Brimonidine Tartrate
  • Cyclic AMP