Imidazoline Desensitization of Epinephrine Responses in Rat Vas Deferens

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Repeated exposure of the rat vas deferens to the imidazoline oxymetazoline (OXY) results in a progressive loss of response which can appear selective for imidazoline agonists. The present study tests the hypothesis that imidazolines produce desensitization through prolonged blockade or inactivation of alpha-1 adrenoreceptors. Repeated exposure to OXY, naphazoline (NPZ) or tetrahydrozoline (THZ) produces a concentration- and time-dependent rightward shift and depression of the (-)-epinephrine concentration-effect curve, suggesting a mechanism of prolonged receptor blockade or inactivation. (-)-Epinephrine Kd values were similar when estimated after either receptor inactivation with phenoxybenzamine or repeated exposure to imidazolines. The differences in the ability of individual imidazolines to produce desensitization (order of potency: OXY greater than NPZ greater than or equal to THZ) do not follow their intrinsic activity (NPZ approximately THZ approximately OXY) or affinity (OXY greater than or equal to NPZ greater than THZ). The ability of individual imidazoline and phenethylamine agonists to produce a response in imidazoline-desensitized rat vas deferens reflects agonist intrinsic efficacy. Desensitization by imidazoline exposure does not affect contraction produced by either KCl or neurokinin A. Imidazolines produce effects similar to receptor inactivation and their desensitization in vas deferens can be explained without invoking an imidazoline subtype of alpha-1 adrenoreceptor.

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