Pharmacological subclassification of alpha 1-adrenoceptors in vascular smooth muscle

Br J Pharmacol. 1990 Jan;99(1):197-201. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.1990.tb14678.x.


1. We examined whether alpha 1-adrenoceptors in various blood vessels can be divided into subtypes by antagonist affinity or by susceptibility to chloroethylclonidine or nifedipine. 2. Noradrenaline or phenylephrine produced concentration-dependent contractions in all the tissues tested, which were competitively inhibited by phentolamine, yohimbine, prazosin, WB4101 and HV723. However, there were large differences between the tissues in the pA2 values for all the antagonists except phentolamine. 3. The blood vessels could be classified into three groups (I, II and III) on the basis of their affinity variation. In group I (dog mesenteric artery and vein, saphenous vein), the pA2 values for HV723 were greater than 9, and those for HV723 and WB4101 were approximately 1 log unit higher than for prazosin. This rank order of affinity reversed in group II (dog carotid artery and rat thoracic aorta), where prazosin was more potent (pA2 values greater than 9.5) than HV723 or WB4101. In group III (rabbit mesenteric artery, thoracic aorta and carotid artery and guinea-pig thoracic aorta), on the other hand, prazosin, HV723 and WB4101 inhibited the noradrenaline response with a similar affinity (pA2 values ranging from 8 to 9). 4. Yohimbine inhibited the responses to noradrenaline and phenylephrine with a lower affinity than prazosin, HV723 or WB4101. The pA2 values for yohimbine were similar in groups I and II (the values greater than 6.5), which were greater than those in group III (values less than 6.4). 5. The alpha l-adrenoceptors in group II were selectively affected by chlorethylclonidine, resulting in an irreversible attenuation of noradrenaline responses in the dog carotid artery and a persistent contraction in the rat thoracic aorta. 6. Nifedipine either produced no effect or a slight inhibition of alpha l-adrenoceptor-mediated contractions in all the blood vessels; these effects were not correlated to the above groups. 7. These results suggest that alpha,-adrenoceptors of blood vessels can be divided into three subtypes (designated as alpha 1H, alpha4L and alpha 1N) by antagonist affinity and their susceptibility to chloroethylclonidine but not to nifedipine: the characteristics of each subtype are summarized in Table 3. Subtypes alpha lH, alpha 1L and alpha lN may be predominantly involved in the contractile responses to noradrenaline or phenylephrine of the blood vessels in groups II, III and I, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetonitriles / pharmacology
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / drug effects
  • Clonidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Clonidine / pharmacology
  • Dioxanes / pharmacology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Guinea Pigs
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Nifedipine / pharmacology
  • Norepinephrine / pharmacology
  • Phentolamine / pharmacology
  • Prazosin / pharmacology
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha / drug effects*
  • Species Specificity
  • Yohimbine / pharmacology


  • Acetonitriles
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Dioxanes
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha
  • HV 723
  • Yohimbine
  • chlorethylclonidine
  • (2-(2',6'-dimethoxy)phenoxyethylamino)methylbenzo-1,4-dioxane
  • Nifedipine
  • Clonidine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Prazosin
  • Phentolamine