What is the role of norepinephrine (3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenolglycol, or MHPG) in the pathophysiology of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS)?

Updated: May 16, 2018
  • Author: Glen L Xiong, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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McEntee and colleagues demonstrated decreased levels of a metabolite of norepinephrine (3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenolglycol, or MHPG) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of some patients with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. [26] They pointed out that the diencephalic lesions are located within monoamine-containing pathways. Clonidine, an alpha-noradrenergic agonist, seemed to improve the memory disorder of their patients. They postulated that damage to these pathways may be the basis for the amnestic features of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. These results have not been reproduced in any large prospective study. Patients with permanent Korsakoff psychosis are not routinely treated with clonidine.


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