Background: To identify a pharmacological agent that can selectively activate cardiac vagus nerve for potential use in vagal activation therapy against heart failure, the effects of medetomidine on autonomic nerve activities in both the heart and stomach were examined. Methods and Results: In anesthetized rabbits, microdialysis probes were implanted into both the right atrial and gastric walls. Dialysate acetylcholine (ACh) and norepinephrine (NE) concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. First, the effects of 100 μg/kg of intravenous medetomidine on vagal ACh and sympathetic NE releases were examined. Medetomidine significantly increased cardiac ACh release (4.7±1.1 to 7.8±0.9 nmol/L, P<0.05), but suppressed gastric ACh release (8.0±2.6 to 3.5±1.5 nmol/L, P<0.01). In contrast, medetomidine suppressed both cardiac and gastric NE releases. Second, the effects of medetomidine on ACh releases induced by electrical vagus nerve stimulation (VNS; 10 Hz) were examined. Electrical VNS significantly increased both cardiac (6.7±1.2 to 14.8±1.8 nmol/L, P<0.01) and gastric (3.8±0.8 to 181.3±65.6 nmol/L, P<0.01) ACh releases. Medetomidine did not alter the VNS-induced increases in ACh release. Conclusions: Medetomidine suppresses both cardiac and gastric sympathetic nerve activities. In contrast, medetomidine activates cardiac vagus nerve but inhibits gastric vagal activity. Medetomidine might be one of the potential pharmacological agents for vagal activation therapy against heart failure without the risk of gastric adverse effects.
- Sympathetic nerve activity
- Vagus nerve activity
- α2-adrenergic agonist
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine