Changes in cardiovascular effects of dopamine in response to graded hypothermia in vivo*

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Objective:Inotropic drugs are frequently administered in hypothermic patients to support an assumed inadequate circulation, but their pharmacologic properties at reduced temperatures are largely unknown. Thus we estimated dopamine pharmacokinetics as well as left ventricular function and global hemodynamics after dopamine infusions at various core temperatures in a pig model of surface cooling and rewarming.Design:Prospective, randomized, open, placebo-controlled experimental study.Setting:University-affiliated animal research laboratory.Subjects:Sixteen healthy, anesthetized juvenile (2–3 months) castrated male pigs.Interventions:After normothermic infusions of dopamine at different doses (4, 8, and 16 μg/kg/min), effects of dopamine (n = 8) or saline (n = 8) were tested at 25°C and during rewarming (30–34°C).Measurements and Main Results:Dopamine half-time was 5.4 ± 0.7 min at normothermia, increased to 11.6 ± 0.8 min at 25°C, but returned to control during rewarming at 34–35°C. Dopamine infusion at 25°C elevated dopamine plasma concentration four-fold compared to the same infusion rate at normothermia, leading to increased systemic vascular resistance index not seen at normothermia. Also, in contrast to the dopamine-mediated increase in cardiac index observed at normothermia, high-dose dopamine at 25°C left cardiac index unchanged despite a concomitant increase in heart rate, since stroke index decreased by 43%. During rewarming, cardiovascular effects of dopamine at moderate hypothermia (30–34°C) were principally similar to responses during normothermia.Conclusions:Pharmacodynamic effects and pharmacokinetics of dopamine are maintained during the rewarming phase at moderate hypothermia. However, at 25°C dopamine pharmacokinetics were seriously altered and dopamine failed to increase cardiac index since stroke index was reduced with incrementing dosages. Properties of the low-flow, high-viscosity circulatory state, combined with altered pharmacokinetics of dopamine, may explain lack of beneficial – and potentially harmful – effects from dopamine administration at 25°C.

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