In humans, under resting conditions there is an age-related decrease in myocardial fatty acid utilization (MFAU) and oxidation (MFAO) and a relative increase in myocardial glucose utilization (MGU). The impact of age on an individual's myocardial metabolic response to catecholamines is not well defined. Sixteen younger (mean age, 26 ± 5 yr) and 14 older (mean age, 69 ± 4 yr) volunteers underwent positron emission tomography to measure myocardial blood flow, myocardial oxygen consumption (MV̇o2), MFAU, MFAO, and MGU both under resting conditions and during dobutamine infusion. In response to dobutamine administration, the rate-pressure product, myocardial blood flow, and MVo2 measurements increased by similar amounts in both groups. No age-related differences were noted in the responses of plasma insulin, glucose, fatty acid, or lactate levels to dobutamine. With dobutamine infusion, MFAU and MFAO increased by a similar extent in both younger and older volunteers (age/dobutamine interactions, P = 0.62 and 0.75, respectively). In contrast, MGU increased with dobutamine administration in the younger (from 149 t 71 to 209 ± 78 nmol·g-1· min-1; P = 0.04) but not in the older (from 235 ± 147 to 176 ± 84 nmol·g-1·min-1; P = 0.23; age/dobutamine interaction, P = 0.03) group. With dobutamine infusion, hearts in both younger and older volunteers responded by increasing their MFAU and MFAO values. Whereas younger hearts also responded with an increase in MGU, older hearts did not. Although the clinical significance of these findings awaits further study, these results may partially explain the impaired contractile reserve and the increased incidence of cardiovascular disease in older individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H2158-H2164
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5 54-5
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Catecholamine
  • Fatty acids
  • Glucose
  • Heart
  • Oxidation


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