High concentrations of dexmedetomidine inhibit compound action potentials in frog sciatic nerves without α2 adrenoceptor activation

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSEDexmedetomidine, an α2–adrenoceptor agonist, exhibits anti–nociceptive actions at the spinal cord and enhances the effect of local anaesthetics in the peripheral nervous system. Although the latter action may be attributed in part to inhibition of nerve conduction produced by dexmedetomidine, this has not been fully examined yet.EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHWe examined the effects of various adrenoceptor agonists including dexmedetomidine, and tetracaine, a local anaesthetic, on compound action potentials (CAPs) recorded from the frog sciatic nerve, using the air–gap method.KEY RESULTSDexmedetomidine reversibly and concentration–dependently reduced the peak amplitude of CAPs (IC50= 0.40 mmol·L−1). This action was not antagonized by two α2–adrenoceptor antagonists, yohimbine and atipamezole; the latter antagonist itself reduced CAP peak amplitude. Clonidine and oxymetazoline, two other α2–adrenoceptor agonists, also inhibited CAPs; the maximum effect of clonidine was only 20%, while oxymetazoline was less potent (IC50= 1.5 mmol·L−1) than dexmedetomidine. On the other hand, (±)–adrenaline, (±)–noradrenaline, α1–adrenoceptor agonist (–)–phenylephrine and β–adrenoceptor agonist (–)–isoprenaline (each 1 mmol·L−1) had no effect on CAPs. Tetracaine reversibly reduced CAP peak amplitude (IC50 of 0.014 mmol·L−1).CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONSDexmedetomidine reduced CAP peak amplitude without α2–adrenoceptor activation (at concentrations >1000–fold higher than those used as α2 adrenoceptor agonist), with a lower potency than tetracaine. CAPs were inhibited by other α2 adrenoceptor agonists, oxymetazoline and clonidine, and also an α2 adrenoceptor antagonist atipamezole. Thus, some drugs acting on α2 adrenoceptors are able to block nerve conduction.

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