Carvedilol but Not Metoprolol Reduces β-Adrenergic Responsiveness After Complete Elimination From Plasma In Vivo

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Carvedilol but not metoprolol exhibits persistent binding to β-adrenergic receptors (β-ARs) even after washout in cell culture experiments. Here, we determined the significance of this phenomenon on human β-ARs in vitro and in vivo.

Methods and Results—

Experiments were conducted on human atrial trabeculae (n=8 to 10 per group). In the presence of metoprolol, isoproterenol potency was reduced compared with controls (P <0.001). In the presence of carvedilol, isoproterenol identified 2 distinct binding sites of high (36±6%; −8.8±0.4 log mol/L) and low affinity (−6.5±0.2 log mol/L). After β-blocker washout, isoproterenol potency returned to control values in metoprolol-treated muscles, whereas in carvedilol-treated preparations, isoproterenol potency remained decreased (P <0.001 versus control). In vivo studies were performed in 9 individuals receiving metoprolol succinate (190 mg/d) or carvedilol (50 mg/d) for 11 days in a randomized crossover design. Dobutamine stress echocardiography (5 to 40 μg · kg−1 · min−1) was performed before, during, and 44 hours after application of study medication. β-Blocker medication reduced heart rate, heart rate–corrected velocity of circumferential fiber shortening, and cardiac output compared with baseline (P <0.02 to 0.0001). After withdrawal of metoprolol, all parameters returned to baseline values, whereas after carvedilol, all parameters remained reduced (P <0.05 to 0.001) despite complete plasma elimination of carvedilol.


Carvedilol but not metoprolol inhibits the catecholamine response of the human heart beyond its plasma elimination. The persistent β-blockade by carvedilol may be explained by binding of carvedilol to an allosteric site of β-ARs.

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