Cardiac sympathetic nervous activity in congestive heart failure. Evidence for increased neuronal norepinephrine release and preserved neuronal uptake.
BACKGROUND Increased concentrations of norepinephrine in coronary sinus plasma reported in congestive heart failure (CHF) could result from increased cardiac sympathetic nerve firing and norepinephrine release or from failure of neuronal uptake mechanisms to recapture released norepinephrine. We have applied neurochemical indexes of cardiac sympathetic nerve function in heart failure patients to delineate the underlying neural pathophysiology.
METHODS AND RESULTS Cardiac norepinephrine synthesis, assessed from the cardiac overflow of the norepinephrine precursor dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA), intraneuronal metabolism estimated from the overflow of the intraneuronal metabolite dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG), neuronal norepinephrine reuptake assessed from the fractional extraction of plasma-tritiated norepinephrine and production of tritiated DHPG across the heart, and norepinephrine spillover to plasma were examined in eight patients with CHF caused by coronary artery disease (left ventricular ejection fraction of 26 +/- 5%, mean +/- SEM) and 14 age-matched healthy subjects. Cardiac norepinephrine spillover was increased eightfold in CHF subjects (127 ng/min versus 14 ng/min in healthy subjects; standard error of the difference [SED], 8 ng/min; P < .002), and cardiac DOPA was increased twofold (P < .02). The fractional extraction of tritiated norepinephrine across the heart was marginally less in CHF subjects (0.63 versus 0.73 in normal subjects; SED, 0.02), but the extent to which pharmacological neuronal uptake blockade with desipramine reduced the cardiac extraction of tritiated norepinephrine (by 71% versus 73% in normal subjects) and reduced the production of tritiated DHPG derived from uptake and intraneuronal metabolism of tritiated norepinephrine was similar in CHF patients and healthy subjects.
CONCLUSIONS The marked increase in norepinephrine spillover from the heart in CHF attributable to coronary artery disease results primarily from an increase in sympathetic nerve firing and neuronal release of norepinephrine, not from faulty neuronal reuptake of norepinephrine.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association