Cardiovascular regulation by the sympathetic nervous system is mediated by activation of one or more of the nine known subtypes of the adrenergic receptor family; α1A-, α1B-, α1D-, α2A-, α2B-, α2C-, β1-, β2- and β3-ARs (adrenoceptors). The role of the α2-AR family has long been known to include presynaptic inhibition of neurotransmitter release, diminished sympathetic efferent traffic, vasodilation and vasoconstriction. This complex response is mediated by one of three subtypes which all uniquely affect blood pressure and blood flow. All three subtypes are present in the brain, kidney, heart and vasculature. However, each differentially influences blood pressure and sympathetic transmission. Activation of α2A-ARs in cardiovascular control centres of the brain lowers blood pressure and decreases plasma noradrenaline (norepinephrine), activation of peripheral α2B-ARs causes sodium retention and vasoconstriction, whereas activation of peripheral α2C-ARs causes cold-induced vasoconstriction. In addition, non-selective agonists elicit endothelium-dependent vasodilation and presynaptic inhibition of noradrenaline release. The evidence that each of these receptor subtypes uniquely participates in cardiovascular control is discussed in this review.

You do not currently have access to this content.