Clinical Autonomic Research

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 103–108 | Cite as

Is adrenaline released by sympathetic nerves in man?

  • Murray Esler
  • Graeme Eisenhofer
  • Jaye Chin
  • Garry Jennings
  • Ian Meredith
  • Helen Cox
  • Gavin Lambert
  • Jane Thompson
  • Anthony Dart
Research Paper


Radiotracer methods were used to measure the rates of regional release of adrenaline and noradrenaline into plasma in man. This was done as a partial test of a theory of essential hypertension pathogenesis which envisages an important cotransmitter function for neuronally released adrenaline. In healthy resting men no release of adrenaline could be detected from the heart, lungs or liver. Adrenaline was released into the right renal vein but an adrenal medullary source is suspected. With the relatively limited activation of the cardiac sympathetic outflow which accompanied mental challenge and isometric exercise, cardiac adrenaline release remained undetectable. During supine bicycle exercise, which increased cardiac noradrenaline release 10–30 fold, to a mean value of 197ng/min, cardiac adrenaline release averaged 2.36 ng/min. In two clinical conditions associated with persistently elevated plasma adrenaline concentrations, cardiac failure and adrenaline-secreting phaeochromocytoma, regional release of adrenaline was clearly evident. Thus, in normal man during exercise, and in patients with cardiac failure at rest, adrenaline is released from non-adrenal sources, and probably from sympathetic nerves. Whether neuronal adrenaline release of the degree found would be sufficient to facilitate noradrenaline release, augment sympathetically-mediated cardiovascular responses and contribute to the development of arterial hypertension remains to be tested.

Key words

Heart Kidneys Liver Lungs Cardiac failure Phaeochromocytoma Noradrenaline Exercise Mental stress 


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Copyright information

© Rapid Communications of Oxford Ltd. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Murray Esler
    • 1
  • Graeme Eisenhofer
    • 1
  • Jaye Chin
    • 1
  • Garry Jennings
    • 1
  • Ian Meredith
    • 1
  • Helen Cox
    • 1
  • Gavin Lambert
    • 1
  • Jane Thompson
    • 1
  • Anthony Dart
    • 1
  1. 1.Alfred Baker Medical UnitAlfred Hospital and Baker Medical Research InstituteMelbourneAustralia

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