Adrenaline infusion in man increases muscle sympathetic nerve activity and noradrenaline overflow to plasma

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This study was conducted to determine if muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSA) and/or the neuronal release of noradrenaline per impulse are modulated by adrenaline in the physiological plasma concentration range. We gave step-wise infusions of adrenaline (0.05–0.6 nmol/kg per min) to 10 healthy young men and measured: intra-arterial blood pressure; heart rate; central venous pressure (CVP); efferent MSA (microneurography in the peroneal nerve); arterial (brachial artery) and femoral venous plasma concentrations of noradrenaline, and the spillover of noradrenaline to arterial and venous plasma (radiotracer infusion). The infusion of adrenaline caused a fall in diastolic blood pressure and tachycardia, and was associated with increases in MSA and noradrenaline spillover. These observations suggest that part of the adrenaline-induced increase in transmitter release is due to enhanced nerve impulse activity, but such a conclusion rests on the absence of diffusion limitations from the site of noradrenaline infusion into the blood stream. After termination of adrenaline infusion the tachycardia and elevated plasma noradrenaline levels persisted, but these changes were probably due mainly to a profound increase in nerve activity. Concurrently, there was a reduction in CVP which may have triggered the increase in efferent sympathetic nerve activity. Infusions of adrenaline did not influence the clearance of noradrenaline from arterial plasma, but the fractional extraction over the leg was moderately reduced, indicating that more arterial noradrenaline is recovered in venous plasma during adrenaline infusion. The present data suggest that the reasons for the adrenalipe-induced increase in noradrenaline release are complex, but they are consistent with the hypothesis that stress levels of adrenaline enhance sympathetic nerve activity, and that circulating adrenaline may modulate both haemodynamic and neural responses to stress.

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