1. The effect of intravenous catecholamine infusions and of intravenous insulin on plasma volume and intravascular mass of albumin was investigated in healthy males.
2. Physiological doses of adrenaline (0.5 μg/min and 3 μg/min) increased peripheral venous packed cell volume significantly; intravenous noradrenaline at 0.5 μg/min had no effect on packed cell volume, whereas packed cell volume increased significantly at 3 μg of noradrenaline/min. No significant change in packed cell volume was found during saline infusion.
3. During adrenaline infusion at 6 μg/min, packed cell volume increased, plasma volume decreased and intravascular mass of albumin decreased significantly. During noradrenaline infusion at 6 μg/min, packed cell volume increased and plasma volume decreased, but intravascular mass of albumin did not change.
4. Application of a hyperinsulinaemic, euglycaemic glucose clamp led to an increase in transcapillary escape rate of albumin and a decrease in intravascular mass of albumin. Packed cell volume remained constant, while plasma volume, measured by radiolabeled albumin, decreased.
5. We conclude that the previously reported changes in packed cell volume, plasma volume, intravascular mass of albumin and transcapillary escape rate of albumin during hypoglycaemia may be explained by the combined actions of adrenaline and insulin.