Norepinephrine: Hormone and neurotransmitter in man

A. B. Silverberg, S. D. Shah, M. W. Haymond, P. E. Cryer

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To determine whether norepinephrine could subserve a hormonal as well as a neurotransmitter function, norepinephrine was infused for 60 min into each of five normal young men in doses of 0.1, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, and 5.0 μg/min. After infusion, the plasma norepinephrine concentration fell with a mean (±SD) half-time of 2.4 ± 0.7 min. The mean (±SD) norepinephrine metabolic clearance rate was 3,070 ± 200 ml/min. The calculated basal plasma norepinephrine production rate was 0.7 μg/min. The blood pressure and circulating glycerol, acetoacetate, β-hydroxybutyrate, and glucose (increased) and the heart rate and circulating insulin, lactate, pyruvate, and alanine (decreased) exhibited highly significant parabolic relationships with the steady-state plasma norepinephrine concentrations. However, norepinephrine levels in excess of 1,800 pg/ml were required to produce hemodynamic and/or metabolic effects. Thus, under usual conditions, the biologic actions of norepinephrine can be attributed only to its sympathetic neurotransmitter function. Plasma norepinephrine concentrations do at times exceed 1,800 pg/ml during exercise and during major acute illness. Thus, under conditions of stress, norepinephrine may subserve a hormonal, as well as a neurotransmitter, function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E252-E256
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology Endocrinology Metabolism and Gastrointestinal Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1978


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