Binding characteristics of a radiolabeled agonist and antagonist at central nervous system alpha noradrenergic receptors

D. C. U'Prichard, D. A. Greenberg, S. H. Snyder

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537 Scopus citations


Binding of the alpha noradrenergic agonist [3H]clonidine and the alpha antagonist [3H]WB-4101 (2 ([2',6' dimethoxy]phenoxyethylamino)methylbenzodioxan) to rat brain membranes exhibits characteristics expected of alpha receptors for norepinephrine. Binding of both [3H]ligands is saturable, with KD values of 5.8 nM and 0.48 nM for [3H]clonidine and [3H]WB-4101, respectively. A series of catecholamines inhibits the binding of both ligands with the potency order epinephrine > norepinephrine >> isoproterenol, corresponding to the relative activities of these agents at alpha receptors in the periphery. Competition for binding is stereoselective, with (-) isomers of phenylethanolamines many times more potent than the corresponding (+) isomers. Classical alpha antagonists inhibit binding of both ligands at low concentrations, but beta antagonists are much weaker. Alpha agonists are more potent in displacing [3H]clonidine than [3H]WB-4101 binding, while alpha antagonists compete more avidly for [3H]WB-4101 sites. Partial agonist ergot alkaloids display similar affinities for the binding sites of both [3H]ligands. These findings may be explained by the existence of discrete agonist and antagonist states of the alpha receptor, which preferentially bind [3H]clonidine and [3H]WB-4101, respectively. Regional variations in the binding of both [3H]ligands in the brain are not pronounced, although levels tend to be highest in hypothalamus and cerebral cortex and lowest in cerebellum. Treatment with 6-hydroxydopamine fails to decrease the binding of either [3H]ligand, suggesting that binding occurs to postsynaptic sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-473
Number of pages20
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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