Heart Failure Reviews

, 14:225 | Cite as

β-Adrenergic stimulation and myocardial function in the failing heart



The sympathetic nervous system provides the most powerful stimulation of cardiac function, brought about via norepinephrine and epinephrine and their postsynaptic β-adrenergic receptors. More than 30 years after the first use of practolol in patients with heart failure betablockers are now the mainstay of the pharmacological treatment of chronic heart failure. Many aspects of their mechanism of action are well understood, but others remain unresolved. This review focuses on a number of questions that are key to further developments in the field. What accounts for and what is the role of β-adrenergic desensitization, a hallmark of the failing heart? Is part of this adaptation predominantly beneficial and should therefore be reinforced, another part mainly maladaptive and therefore a target for antagonists? Which lessons can be drawn from studies in genetically engineered mice, which from (pharmaco) genetic studies? Finally, what are promising targets downstream of β-adrenergic receptors that go beyond the current neurohumoral blockade?


Heart failure β-Adrenergic signaling Contractility Transgenic mice Inotropes Betablocker 



The work of the authors in this field is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG-FOR-604 to AEA and TE) and by the European Union (EUGene Heart to AEA and TE) and by the German Heart Foundation (to AEA).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany

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