Alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonists: a review of current clinical applications

Anesth Prog. 2015 Spring;62(1):31-9. doi: 10.2344/0003-3006-62.1.31.


The α-2 adrenergic receptor agonists have been used for decades to treat common medical conditions such as hypertension; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; various pain and panic disorders; symptoms of opioid, benzodiazepine, and alcohol withdrawal; and cigarette craving. (1) However, in more recent years, these drugs have been used as adjuncts for sedation and to reduce anesthetic requirements. This review will provide an historical perspective of this drug class, an understanding of pharmacological mechanisms, and an insight into current applications in clinical anesthesiology.

Keywords: Alpha-2 agonists; Clonidine; Dexmedetomidine; General anesthesia; Procedural sedation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Anesthesia / pharmacology
  • Adjuvants, Anesthesia / therapeutic use*
  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Agonists / pharmacology
  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Anesthesia, Dental*
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Conscious Sedation*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage


  • Adjuvants, Anesthesia
  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Agonists
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives