Agmatine: an endogenous clonidine-displacing substance in the brain

Science  18 Feb 1994:
Vol. 263, Issue 5149, pp. 966-969
DOI: 10.1126/science.7906055


Clonidine, an antihypertensive drug, binds to alpha 2-adrenergic and imidazoline receptors. The endogenous ligand for imidazoline receptors may be a clonidine-displacing substance, a small molecule isolated from bovine brain. This clonidine-displacing substance was purified and determined by mass spectroscopy to be agmatine (decarboxylated arginine), heretofore not detected in brain. Agmatine binds to alpha 2-adrenergic and imidazoline receptors and stimulates release of catecholamines from adrenal chromaffin cells. Its biosynthetic enzyme, arginine decarboxylase, is present in brain. Agmatine, locally synthesized, is an endogenous agonist at imidazoline receptors, a noncatecholamine ligand at alpha 2-adrenergic receptors and may act as a neurotransmitter.

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