To determine the plasma epinephrine thresholds for its lipolytic effect, 60-min epinephrine infusions at nominal rates of 0.1, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, and 5.0 micrograms/min were performed in each of four normal young adult men while they also received a simultaneous infusion of [1-13C]palmitic acid to estimate inflow transport of plasma free fatty acids. These 20 infusions resulted in steady-state plasma epinephrine concentrations ranging from 12 to 870 pg/ml. Plasma epinephrine thresholds for changes in blood glucose, lactate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate were in the 150--200-pg/ml range reported by us previously (Clutter, W. E., D. M. Bier, S. D. Shah, and P. E. Cryer. 1980. J. Clin. Invest. 66: 94--101.). Increments in plasma glycerol and free fatty acids and in the inflow and outflow transport of palmitate, however, occurred at lower plasma epinephrine thresholds in the range of 75 to 125 pg/ml. Palmitate clearance was unaffected at any steady-state epinephrine level produced. These data indicate that (a) the lipolytic effects of epinephrine occur at plasma levels approximately threefold basal values and (b) lipolysis is more sensitive than glycogenolysis to increments in plasma epinephrine.
A D Galster, W E Clutter, P E Cryer, J A Collins, D M Bier