Neuroprotection by alpha 2-adrenergic agonists in cerebral ischemia

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2005 Oct;3(4):317-23. doi: 10.2174/157015905774322534.


Ischemic brain injury is implicated in the pathophysiology of stroke and brain trauma, which are among the top killers worldwide, and intensive studies have been performed to reduce neural cell death after cerebral ischemia. Alpha 2-adrenergic agonists have been shown to improve the histomorphological and neurological outcome after cerebral ischemic injury when administered during ischemia, and recent studies have provided considerable evidence that alpha 2-adrenergic agonists can protect the brain from ischemia/reperfusion injury. Thus, alpha 2-adrenergic agonists are promising potential drugs in preventing cerebral ischemic injury, but the mechanisms by which alpha 2-adrenergic agonists exert their neuroprotective effect are unclear. Activation of both the alpha 2-adrenergic receptor and imidazoline receptor may be involved. This mini review examines the recent progress in alpha 2-adrenergic agonists - induced neuroprotection and its proposed mechanisms in cerebral ischemic injury.

Keywords: Alpha 2-adrenergic agonist; adrenoceptor; cerebral ischemia; excitatory amino acids; imidazoline receptor; neuroprotection; stroke; sympathoinhibition.