Yohimbine in neurally mediated syncope: Pathophysiological implications

Rogelio Mosqueda-Garcia, Roxana Fernandez-Violante, Jens Tank, Marie Snell, Gary Cunningham, Raffaello Furlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we evaluated if increased sympathetic stimulation is an essential requirement for the development of neurally mediated syncope (NMS) by manipulating overall sympathetic outflow in subjects susceptible to tilt- induced syncope. Eight previously characterized patients with recurrent NMS (five females and three males; 34±2 yr) were recruited from the Vanderbilt Syncope Unit and eight age-matched controls underwent initial administration of clonidine (CLO) or yohimbine (YHO). This was done, prospectively, to determine doses of these agents that would increase or decrease plasma norepinephrine levels by ≥ 30%. On a different day, in all subjects we determined intraarterial blood pressure, EKG and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) both supine and during upright tilt. After this, subjects randomly received either CLO or YHO, and 3 h later another tilt was performed. After 1 wk, a similar procedure with the other drug was performed. During the two basal tilts, all the control subjects completed the study, whereas all the NMS patients developed syncope. Reduction in sympathetic tone by CLO resulted in a decreased tolerance to tilt in three out of eight controls and in all the NMS patients. In contrast, YHO not only increased basal plasma NorEpi levels and MSNA, but also prevented syncope in seven out of eight patients. In a selected population of patients, increased sympathetic activity is not a prerequisite for the development of syncope. Yohimbine-induced enhancement of sympathetic tone in patients with NMS improves orthostatic tolerance and raises the possibility that this drug may be a useful agent in the treatment of NMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1824-1830
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 1998


  • Microneurography
  • Neurocardiogenic syncope
  • Sympathetic function
  • Tilt
  • Vasovagal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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