The I1‐imidazoline agonist moxonidine decreases sympathetic tone under physical and mental stress

Article date: May 2004

By: René R. Wenzel, Anna Mitchell, Winfried Siffert, Sandra Bührmann, Thomas Philipp, Rafael F. Schäfers, in Volume 57, Issue 5, pages 545-551


Moxonidine is an I1‐imidazoline receptor agonist that reduces blood pressure by inhibition of central sympathetic activity. The effects of the drug under physical and mental stress have not been studied in detail.


We investigated the effects of 0.4 mg moxonidine orally on sympathetic activity, blood pressure and heart rate in a double‐blind, placebo‐controlled crossover study in 12 healthy volunteers. The subjects underwent physical exercise test using bicycle ergometry and a mental stress test using an adaptive reaction test device. Potential association of parameters with the GNB3 C825T polymorphism was also assessed.


Under resting conditions, moxonidine decreased plasma noradrenaline (NA: −66.1 ± 12 pg ml−1; P < 0.01 vs placebo) and adrenaline (A: −18.8 ± 6 pg ml−1; P < 0.05 vs placebo). Physical exercise evoked a significant increase in plasma NA and A (NA: 760 ± 98 pg ml−1; A: 97 ± 9 pg ml−1; P < 0.001 vs baseline), which was significantly reduced after pretreatment with moxonidine (NA: 627 ± 68 pg ml−1; P < 0.05 vs placebo; A: 42.8 ± 4 pg ml−1; P < 0.01 vs placebo). Maximal physical exercise capacity was not limited by moxonidine (NS). During the mental stress test, increases in NA (placebo: 146 ± 24 pg ml−1, moxonidine: 84 ± 26 pg ml−1; P < 0.01 vs placebo) and A (placebo: 22.8 ± 9 pg ml−1, moxonidine: 8.0 ± 8 pg ml−1; P < 0.01 vs placebo) were significantly reduced after pretreatment with moxonidine. Increases in blood pressure during mental stress were significantly lower after pretreatment with moxonidine (P < 0.05 vs placebo). There was no association of the response to moxonidine with GNB3 genotypes (NS).


Moxonidine decreases total sympathetic tone under basal conditions as well as during physical exercise and mental stress without limiting absolute exercise capacity. Thus, moxonidine appears suitable for the treatment of patients with high SNS activity and hypertension induced by physical or mental stress. As the drug does not reduce exercise capacity, it may be considered as an alternative to β‐adrenoceptor blockers in selected patients.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2003.02058.x

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