Clonidine's effect on reducing circulating epinephrine by a central mechanism was used in the past as an investigatory test for phaeochromocytoma, which is a catecholamine-synthesizing tumour, usually of the adrenal medulla. In a clonidine suppression test plasma catecholamines levels are measured before and 3 hours after a 0.3 mg oral test dose has been given to somebody. A positive test occurs if there is no decrease in plasma levels.
Clonidine is classed by the FDA as pregnancy category C. It is classified by the TGA of Australia as pregnancy category B3, which means that it has shown some detrimental effects on fetal development in animal studies, although the relevance of this to human beings is unknown. Additionally, clonidine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Therefore, caution is warranted in women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
The principle adverse effects of clonidine are dry mouth, dizziness, hypotension (low blood pressure) and drowsiness.
Clonidine suppresses sympathetic outflow resulting in lower blood pressure, but sudden discontinuation can cause rebound hypertension due to a rebound in sympathetic outflow.
Clonidine therapy should generally be gradually tapered off when discontinuing therapy to avoid rebound effects from occurring. Treatment of clonidine withdrawal hypertension depends on the severity of the condition. Reintroduction of clonidine for mild cases, alpha and beta blockers for more urgent situations. Beta blockers never should be used alone to treat clonidine withdrawal as alpha vasoconstriction would still continue.
Clonidine, 2-(2,6-dichlorophenylamino)imidazoline, is synthesized from 2,6-dichloroaniline, the reaction of which with ammonium thiocyanate gives N-(2,6- dichlorophenyl)thiourea. Methylation of this product, followed by the subsequent reaction with ethylene diamine gives clonidine.
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