Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Biological: Behavioural genetics · Evolutionary psychology · Neuroanatomy · Neurochemistry · Neuroendocrinology · Neuroscience · Psychoneuroimmunology · Physiological Psychology · Psychopharmacology (Index, Outline)

Methyldopa chemical structure

(2S)-2-amino-3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-2-methyl-propanoic acid
IUPAC name
CAS number
ATC code


Chemical formula {{{chemical_formula}}}
Molecular weight 211.215 g/mol
Bioavailability approximately 50%
Metabolism Hepatic
Elimination half-life 105 minutes
Excretion Renal for metabolites
Pregnancy category a drug of choice in PIH
Legal status Rx-only
Routes of administration Oral, IV

Methyldopa or alpha-methyldopa (brand names Aldomet, Apo-Methyldopa, Dopamet, Novomedopa) is a centrally-acting adrenergic antihypertensive medication. Its use is now deprecated following introduction of alternative safer classes of agents. However it continues to have a role in otherwise difficult to treat hypertension and pregnancy-induced hypertension.


Methyldopa has variable absorption from the gut of approximately 50%. It is metabolized in the intestines and liver; its metabolite alpha-methylnorepineprine acts in the brain to stimulate alpha-adrenergic receptors decreasing total peripheral resistance. It is excreted in urine.

Mechanism of action

Methyldopa, in its active metabolite form, is a central alpha-2 receptor agonist. Using methyldopa leads to alpha-2 receptor-negative feedback to sympathetic nervous system (SNS) (centrally and peripherally), allowing peripheral sympathetic nervous system (PSNS) tone to decrease. Such activity leads to a decrease in total peripheral resistance (TPR) and cardiac output.

Rebound effect

Rebound hypertension has been reported in some cases when methyldopa has been abruptly withdrawn after extended use[1]. This results because the long term use of methyldopa lowers the sensitivity of presynaptic alpha 2 receptors: the release of norepinephrine (NE) from sympathetic nerve endings is modulated by NE itself acting on the presynaptic alpha 2 autoreceptors thus inhibiting its own release. The discontinuation of methyldopa removes the inhibition on NE release leading to excessive NE release from the SNS and the rebound hypertension.


When introduced it was a mainstay of antihypertensive therapy, but its use has declined, with increased use of other safer classes of agents. One of its important present-day uses is in the management of pregnancy-induced hypertension, as it is relatively safe in pregnancy compared to other antihypertensive drugs.

Side effects

There are many possible reported side-effects with some, whilst rare, being serious. Side effects are usually fewer if the dose is less than 1 g per day:[2]

See also


Template:Adrenergic agonists Template:Antihypertensives and diuretics Categor:Drugs with psychosis as a side effect

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).