Imidazoline I1-receptor agonism represents a new mode of antihypertensive action to inhibit peripheral α-adrenergic tone by a central mechanism. Adrenaline, noradrenaline and renin levels are reduced, a finding consistent with central inhibition of sympathetic tone. Acute haemodynamic studies indicate that moxonidine results in an acute decrease in blood pressure due to a fall in systemic vascular resistance, whereas the heart rate, cardiac output, stroke volume and pulmonary artery pressures are not affected. Left ventricular end systolic and diastolic volumes are reduced. Left ventricular hypertrophy has been found to regress after 6 months of treatment.
Following oral administration, maximum concentration is reached at about 1 h, and bioavailability approaches 90%. Moxonidine is mostly excreted unchanged, and biotransformation is unimportant. The half-life of moxonidine is 2.5 h, which is prolonged by renal insufficiency. However, the antihypertensive effect lasts longer than would be expected from the half-life, suggesting possible retention in the central nervous system.
Decreases of about 20–30 mmHg systolic and 10–20 mmHg diastolic blood pressure have been found in open studies with moxonidine. The dosage of 0.2–0.4 mg moxonidine daily controls hypertension in most patients. Moxonidine has been compared with representatives from each important class of antihypertensive drugs, with clonidine, diuretics, both α- and β-blocking drugs, calcium antagonists and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors. Blood pressure control has been observed to be similar with moxonidine and these other agents. Generally, the overall incidence of side-effects has been found to be similar, although the incidence of side-effects with clonidine is greater than that seen with moxonidine.
A meta-analysis of controlled studies with moxonidine found that moxonidine gave similar reductions in blood pressure in both men and women, in those aged below 50, 50–60 and over 60 years, and regardless of body weight. As often seen with some other drugs, higher systolic blood pressures are associated with larger reductions in systolic blood pressure and the same appears to be the case with diastolic blood pressure.