1. On two separate occasions, at least 1 week apart, seven young healthy male subjects received intravenous infusions of either adrenaline [0.27 nmol (50 ng) min−1 kg−1] or saline (154 mmol/l NaCl), plus ascorbic acid (5.68 mmol/l), over 30 min.
2. On each occasion, the subjects were exposed to distal body subatmospheric pressure (DBSP), 0 to 50 mmHg (0 to 6.65 kPa) in 10 mmHg (1.33 kPa) steps, before infusion, during the final 15 min of the infusion, and at 15 min and 30 min after the cessation of the infusion.
3. Venous adrenaline concentrations of 2.85 ±0.22 nmol/l were achieved during the adrenaline infusion, compared with 0.49 ± 0.07 nmol/l during the saline infusion (P < 0.001). At 15 min and at 30 min after cessation of the adrenaline infusion, venous adrenaline concentrations had fallen to levels similar to those achieved after the cessation of the saline infusion.
4. Heart rate rose significantly from 58 ±4 beats/min to 67 ±4 beats/min during the adrenaline infusion (P < 0.05), but there was no further significant change in response to 50 mmHg (6.65 kPa) DBSP. At 30 min after the cessation of the adrenaline infusion, heart rate rose from 60 ± 4 beats/min to 78 ± 7 beats/min in response to 50 mmHg DBSP. This increase was significantly greater than that observed before the adrenaline infusion [58 ± 4 beats/min to 69 ±7 beats/min during 50 mmHg (6.65 kPa) DBSP; P < 0.01].
5. During the infusion of adrenaline, systolic arterial blood pressure rose and diastolic arterial blood pressure fell, but the blood pressure responses to DBSP were unaffected.
6. Forearm blood flow increased significantly during adrenaline infusion but there was no significant difference in the fall in forearm blood flow during DBSP compared with the values before infusion. At 15 min after the cessation of the adrenaline infusion, forearm vascular resistance rose proportionately more in response to DBSP than it had before the adrenaline infusion (P < 0.05).
7. These results are consistent with adrenaline-mediated facilitation of sympathetic neuronal release of noradrenaline in the heart and in the forearm vascular bed.