Alpha receptors can be classified as a subtype of adrenergic receptor, their activation triggers a complex range of autonomic responses that

will be detailed in the following article. We recommend our readers to check our article on beta receptors for further information on autonomic pharmacology.

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Alpha 1 receptors Alpha 2 receptors Drugs affecting alpha receptors

Alpha 1 receptors

The image below shows the synaptic cleft, presynaptic and postsynaptic membranes. Alpha 1 receptors are located on the postsynaptic membrane of effector organs.

Activation of alpha 1 receptors increases vascular smooth muscle contraction, producing increases in blood presure. These receptors also influence activity of genitourinary smooth muscle.

they work mainly as autoreceptors to mediate feedback inhibition of sympathetic transmission.Effects of alpha 1 receptor activation on different tissues and systems:  Vascular smooth muscle.  Genitourinary tract smooth muscle. Alpha 1A receptors are located at the external sphincter of the bladder. Alpha 2 receptors Although alpha 2 receptors are found on both presynaptic neurons and postynaptic cells. Mydriasis is mediated by both alpha 1 and 2 activation. Tamsulosine is used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia because of its ability to selectively block alpha 1A receptors. Alpha 1 antagonists are used in the treatment of hypertension because of their properties as peripheral vasodilators. leading to an increase in peripheral resistance and in blood pressure. thus improving urinary flow. Blockade of alpha 1A receptors decreases tone in the smooth muscle of the bladder neck and prostate.  Mydriasis. Activation of vascular smooth muscle receptors causes vasoconstriction. .

The diagram below shows how when activated. these receptors act as inhibitory autoreceptors (they inhibit norepinephine release from adrenergic neurons) and as inhibitory heteroreceptors (they inhibit acetylcholine release from cholinergic neurons). alpha 2 receptors are located in other regions.In addition to neurons. like pancreatic beta cells and platelets. In addition. activation of alpha 2 receptors on pancreatic beta cells membranes inhibits insulin release. .

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