Many antidepressant drugs, when administered chronically to rats, have been shown to produce decreases in the density of beta adrenergic receptors in the central nervous system. The centrally active beta adrenergic receptor agonist clenbuterol is currently being evaluated clinically as an antidepressant. The chronic administration of this drug to rats resulted in a large decrease in the density of beta adrenergic receptors in some areas of the rat brain but not in others. Thus, autoradiographic studies revealed that the total density of beta adrenergic receptors in the molecular layer of the cerebellum, but not in layers 1 to 3 or layer 4 of the cerebral cortex, was decreased. To examine whether this regional selectivity occurred because of differences in plasticity of cerebellum and cortex or because cerebellum contains mainly beta-2 adrenergic receptors and cortex contains mainly beta-1 adrenergic receptors, separate analyses of the subtypes of beta adrenergic receptors were performed in each area. These experiments indicated that the decrease in receptor density was entirely specific for beta-2 adrenergic receptors, whereas the density of beta-1 receptors was unchanged. Thus, even in layers 1 to 3 and layer 4 of the cerebral cortex, beta-2 receptor density was decreased, with no change in beta-1 receptor density. Using the autoradiographic assay for ligand binding, it was shown that clenbuterol has equal affinity for beta-1 and beta-2 adrenergic receptors, indicating that the selective effect of this drug was not due to a selective affinity for beta-2 receptors. It is hypothesized, based on these data and other recently published data, that, in the central nervous system, clenbuterol is an agonist at beta-2 receptors and an antagonist at beta-1 receptors.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics|
|State||Published - 1987|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine