Vascular and metabolic effects of circulating epinephrine and norepinephrine have been studied in relation to the plasma concentration of these amines in dogs. Intravenous infusion of epinephrine or norepinephrine (0.1, 0.5, and 2.5 nmol x kg-1 x min-1) raised the plasma concentration of the infused amine by 2.5 , 13, and 63 nM from resting levels of 2.4 and 3.6 nM, respectively. Blood flow to isolated adipose tissue; skeletal muscle preparations; and plasma levels of glycerol, glucose, and cyclic AMP were measured. Epinephrine and norepinephrine displayed a distinct selectivity with regard to both vascular and metabolic effects. Epinephrine caused significant vasoconstriction in adipose tissue already at a plasma concentration of 5 nM, whereas no significant effect was seen on skeletal muscle vascular resistance. Norepinephrine, on the other hand, caused significant vasoconstriction in skeletal muscle at 5 nM but had no vasoconstrictor effect in adipose tissue. Epinephrine was more potent than norepinephrine in increasing plasma cyclic AMP and glucose, whereas the converse was true for plasma glycerol. Epinephrine had significant effects on plasma cyclic AMP at 5 nM and on plasma glucose and glycerol at 15 nM. Norepinephrine, on the other hand, had significant effects on plasma glycerol at 5 nM, plasma cyclic AMP at 15 nM and plasma glucose only at 65 nM. It is suggested that these response patterns are related to a preferential action of epinephrine on beta 2-adrenoceptors and a preferential action of norepinephrine on beta 1-adrenoceptors. Our results support the view that both epinephrine and norepinephrine may act as circulating hormones, because vascular and metabolic effects of both amines were seen at plasma concentrations encountered during various kinds of stress in animals and man.


P Hjemdahl, E Belfrage, M Daleskog


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