1. Noradrenaline and adrenaline in the adrenal vein of essential hypertensive patients are almost exclusively (99%) unconjugated or free. However only 17% of dopamine is free, the rest is conjugated. The further the site of sampling from the adrenal vein the closer come the free catecholamines to their normal peripheral venous proportion (noradrenaline + adrenaline 20%, dopamine less than 1% of total catecholamines). Deviations from these patterns help to detect the site and type of secretion of phaeochromocytoma.
2. Essential hypertensive patients have, compared with control subjects, higher conjugated plasma dopamine, less urinary free and conjugated dopamine with blunted urinary free dopamine and sodium responsiveness to frusemide. Conjugated noradrenaline + adrenaline, mean arterial pressure and age are positively interrelated.
3. Patients with primary aldosteronism have elevated plasma and urinary total dopamine. After removal of the adenoma urinary dopamine excretion decreases to normal.
4. Elevated conjugated dopamine appears to reflect a compensatory activation of the dopaminergic vasodilator pathway in hypertension, the total urinary dopamine excretion an intrinsic deficiency or compensatory increase of a dopamine-modulated natriuretic mechanism.