It has become increasingly apparent that evaluation of human norepinephrine metabolism simply by assay of catecholamines in urine is inadequate for differentiation of many physiological or pathological states. In an attempt to examine norepinepherine metabolism in the human subject, tritium-labeled d,l-norepinephrine was administered to 11 normal adults and the definitive turnover rates and relative specific activities of norepinephrine and its major catabolites, vanillylmandelic acid, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethyleneglycol, and normetanephrine, as well as the cumulative 24 hr isotope excretion were determined. The major endogenous norepinephrine catabolites were also quantitatively assayed. In order to verify the reliability of the isotope label, parallel studies were carried out in two patients to whom norepinephrine-14C was administered. Metabolic studies were repeated after the administration of reserpine to gain further insight into the distribution of the label.


Stanley E. Gitlow, Milton Mendlowitz, Laura M. Bertani, Sherwin Wilk, Elizabeth K. Wilk


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