Clonidine improves postprandial baroreflex control in familial dysautonomia

H. Marthol, M. Tutaj, M. Brys, C. M. Brown, M. J. Hecht, D. Berlin, F. B. Axelrod, Max J. Hilz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with familial dysautonomia (FD) frequently experience hypertensive crises after gastrostomy feeding. The central α 2-agonist clonidine attenuates feeding-induced crises. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of clonidine on cardiovascular autonomic modulation and particularly baroreflex sensitivity in familial dysautonomia after gastrostomy feeding. Material and methods: In nine patients, we monitored the RR-interval and systolic blood pressure at supine rest before (baseline 1) and after gastrostomy feeding (GF1). One day later, recordings were repeated after clonidine intake (baseline 2, GF2). We determined spectral powers of RR-interval and systolic blood pressure in the low- (LF) and high-frequency range (HF). Sympathovagal balance was determined from the LF/HF ratio of RR-interval. Baroreflex sensitivity was assessed from the α-index of systolic blood pressure and RR-interval. Results: Gastrostomy feeding decreased RR-interval, while systolic blood pressure remained stable. Clonidine induced higher RR-intervals before and after gastrostomy feeding but decreased systolic blood pressure at baseline only. Gastrostomy feeding decreased HF-power of RR-interval significantly without clonidine, but only slightly after premedication. Clonidine increased the HF-power of RR-interval slightly at baseline and significantly after gastrostomy feeding. Gastrostomy feeding increased the LF/HF ratio without clonidine only. Clonidine decreased the LF/HF ratio at baseline and after gastrostomy feeding. Gastrostomy feeding did not change baroreflex sensitivity, but baroreflex sensitivity was higher at visit 2 than visit 1. Conclusions: In familial dysautonomia, clonidine augments baroreflex sensitivity and parasympathetic modulation. The resulting cardiovascular stabilization might attenuate feeding-induced crises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)912-918
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Baroreflex
  • Clonidine
  • Familial dysautonomia
  • Parasympathetic
  • Spectral analysis


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