Numerous studies have suggested that epinephrine may faciliate neural release of NE. There have been no studies in humans that demonstrate the functional significance of this action. To determine whether epinephrine facilitates neurogenic vasoconstriction in humans, we contrasted forearm vasoconstrictor responses to a reflex stimulus (lower body negative pressure [LBNP]) and to intraarterial NE before, during, and 30 min after infusion of epinephrine (50 ng/min) or isoproterenol (10 or 25 ng/min) into a brachial artery. These doses had no systemic effects. We reasoned that if prejunctional stimulation of beta receptors by epinephrine and isoproterenol had functional significance, the vasoconstrictor response to LBNP would be potentiated in comparison to the response to NE (postjunctional mechanism). Studies were done on 23 normal male volunteers. Forearm blood flow was measured with a strain gauge plethysmograph and intraarterial pressure was recorded. The ratio of vasoconstrictor responses to LBNP/NE was used as an index of neural release of the neurotransmitter NE. This ratio increased during infusions of both epinephrine and isoproterenol. 30 min after epinephrine the vasoconstrictor response to LBNP (n = 15) was augmented from +9.9 ± 2.2 (SE) resistance units (RU) before epinephrine to +16.4 ± 3.2 RU (P < 0.05); whereas the response to NE (n = 8) tended to decrease from +8.8 ± 3.1 RU before to +4.2 ± 1.2 RU after epinephrine (P > 0.05). In contrast, 30 min after isoproterenol the vasoconstrictor responses to LBNP and NE were the same as before isoproterenol. The augmented ratio of responses to LBNP/NE after epinephrine and not after isoproterenol supports the concept that epinephrine but not isoproterenol, is taken up by the adrenergic terminal, is released subsequently during reflex stimulation, and augments the release of the neurotransmitter NE. These experiments provide the first hemodynamic evidence in humans that epinephrine and isoproterenol facilitate neurogenic vasoconstriction. The sustained effect of epinephrine in contrast to isoproterenol suggests that the late facilitation by epinephrine is related to its neural uptake and subsequent release.
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