The effects of intermittent infusions of dobutamine were studied in young normal male subjects during a period of bedrest deconditioning to determine whether this synthetic catechol affects physical conditioning processes in humans. 24 volunteers were placed at bedrest and randomized to daily 2-h treatments of saline infusions (control), dobutamine infusions, or maintenance exercise (control). Exercise, hemodynamic, and metabolic studies were performed at base line and at the termination of the 3-wk treatment period. Maximal exercise (duration, oxygen consumption, and workload) fell for the saline group and remained unchanged for the dobutamine and exercise groups. Hemodynamics during exercise were maintained the same as pretreatment base line for the dobutamine and exercise groups, whereas stroke volume and cardiac output dropped and heart rate rose for the saline group. The metabolic profile showed an increased blood lactate response at rest and during submaximal exercise after 3 wk of bedrest for the saline group, and essentially no change for the exercise and the dobutamine groups. Extraction of oxygen across the exercising lower limb rose for the dobutamine group, as did the activity of the skeletal muscle oxidative enzymes, citrate synthetase, and succinate dehydrogenase. In contrast to the exercise control group, the saline and dobutamine groups developed orthostatic hypotension, tachycardia, and accentuation of the renin-aldosterone response over the 3-wk treatment period; for the saline group, this is best explained by the observed fall in blood volume and for the dobutamine group, by the blunting of vascular vasoconstrictive responses. During a period of bedrest deconditioning in humans, infusions of dobutamine maintain many of the physiologic expressions of physical conditioning.
M J Sullivan, P F Binkley, D V Unverferth, J H Ren, H Boudoulas, T M Bashore, A J Merola, C V Leier