Effects of an α2-adrenergic agonist on gastrointestinal transit, colonic motility, and sensation in humans

Blanca E. Viramontes, Allison Malcolm, Michael Camilleri, Lawrence A. Szarka, Sanna Mckinzie, Duane D. Burton, Alan R. Zinsmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


To characterize α2-adrenergic control of motor and sensory functions of gastrointestinal tract and colon, we studied dose-related effects of clonidine (placebo or up to 0.3 mg po) by random assignment in 55 healthy humans. Gastrointestinal transit was measured in all subjects; in 35, we assessed colonic compliance, tone, and sensations of gas and pain during phasic distensions. Clonidine did not significantly alter gastrointestinal or colonic transit, but it increased colonic compliance and reduced fasting tone without altering colonic response to a meal. Clonidine significantly reduced aggregate sensation to distensions overall and had significant linear dose-related sensory effects at 8- and 24-mmHg distensions. Effect on pain (including dose-response relationship) was due to 0.3-mg dose for distensions at 24 mmHg. We confirmed that clonidine relaxes fasting colonic tone and reduces sensation of pain. In this study, gut transit was not altered by clonidine, and novel dose-response characteristics and clonidine's effect on gas sensation are provided. Doses as low as 0.05 mg may be effective and potentially useful in reducing colonic tone and gas sensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G1468-G1476
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number6 44-6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Clonidine
  • Compliance
  • Transit
  • α-adrenoreceptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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