Effects of low-dose dopamine on ventilation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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Dopamine plays an important role in the regulation of respiration and low-dose dopamine infusion is associated with a decreased respiratory drive response to hypoxia in animals and humans. The effects of dopamine on ventilation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that dopamine inhibits ventilation in patients with COPD.

Materials and methods

In a double-blinded, cross-over, placebo-controlled, randomized study we studied nine patients with decompensated COPD, ventilated in the pressure support mode in the intensive care unit (ICU) and five ambulatory patients with stable COPD. All patients received 5 μg kg−1 min−1 of dopamine or an equivalent volume of 5% glucose solution.


In the mechanically ventilated COPD patients, there was no difference in the effects of dopamine compared with placebo on blood pressure, heart rate, minute ventilation (−0·5 ± 1·1 vs. −0·2 ± 0·9 L min−1, P = 0·46, respectively), respiratory rate (−0·4 ± 2·7 vs. −0·3 ± 2·1 min−1, P = 0·96), PaO2 (−5 ± 4 vs. −5 ± 10 mmHg, P = 0·90, respectively), or PaCO2 (−0·7 ± 1·4 vs. −1·0 ± 3·4 mmHg, P = 0·83, respectively). In spontaneously breathing stable patients, dopamine increased systolic blood pressure (P = 0·02) but did not influence other haemodynamic and respiratory variables.


Although low-dose dopamine has been shown to depress ventilation in a variety of conditions, it does not compromise ventilation in COPD patients either breathing spontaneously or when weaned using pressure support ventilation.

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