1. The effect of endogenous sympathetic stimulation (induced by urinary bladder stimulation) and intravenous infusion of noradrenaline and isoprenaline on blood pressure, heart rate and levels of plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone were studied in six tetraplegic patients. Data from infusion studies were compared with data from six normal subjects studied in an identical manner.
2. Bladder stimulation in the tetraplegic patients caused a marked rise in blood pressure and fall in heart rate, but no change in plasma renin activity or plasma aldosterone.
3. Noradrenaline infusion resulted in an enhanced pressor response in the tetraplegic patients when compared with the normal subjects. Heart rate fell in both groups. Plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone did not change in either group.
4. Isoprenaline infusion caused a fall in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the tetraplegic patients, unlike the normal subjects in whom there was a rise in systolic and a fall in diastolic blood pressure. Heart rate and plasma renin activity rose in both groups. Plasma aldosterone did not change in either group.
5. We conclude that in tetraplegic patients neither endogenous sympathetic stimulation by bladder stimulation nor infusion of noradrenaline raises plasma renin activity. Isoprenaline increases plasma renin activity to the same extent as in normal subjects. Renin release mechanisms in tetraplegic patients therefore do not appear to be hypersensitive to catecholamines. Plasma aldosterone is not influenced by any of the stimuli.