1. Adrenaline was infused at a rate of 25 ng min−1 kg−1 into seven healthy volunteers and its effects on adipose tissue were studied by microdialysis.

2. Adrenaline infusion led to a rapid rise in plasma adrenaline concentration from a basal value of 0.15 ± 0.03 nmol/l to a peak value of 1.82 ± 0.15 nmol/l within 30 min (analysis of variance: P < 0.001). Plasma noradrenaline levels increased from the basal value of 1.48 ± 0.21 nmol/l to 1.78 ± 0.20 nmol/l within 30 min of infusion (analysis of variance: P < 0.05). Once the infusion was stopped the plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline levels returned to basal values within 15 min.

3. The arterialized blood glycerol concentration increased from the basal value of 47 ± 6μmol/l to 101 ± 8 μmol/l (analysis of variance: P < 0.001), and the interstitial glycerol concentration increased from 181 ± 17 μmol/l to 350 ± 47μmol/l (analysis of variance: P < 0.001) within 30 min of adrenaline infusion. Thereafter the concentrations declined gradually towards basal values. When the infusion was discontinued the levels declined further, below the basal value.

4. Adrenaline infusion caused a significant increase in the plasma glucose and blood lactate concentration (analysis of variance: P < 0.001 and P < 0.001), but no such effect was observed in the interstitial concentrations.

5. The basal dialysate concentrations of adrenaline and noradrenaline were 43 ± 37 pmol/l and 1170 ± 430 pmol/l respectively. There were difficulties in estimating the absolute interstitial concentrations of adrenaline and noradrenaline which are discussed. The dialysate adrenaline concentration increased to a peak value of 112 ± 48 pmol/l (analysis of variance: P < 0.05) within 30 min. The dialysate noradrenaline concentration increased to a peak value of 2830 ± 1470 pmol/l, but the rise was not significant.

6. These results show that the interstitial concentrations of metabolites and hormones can be significantly different from those of blood and plasma and these differences reflect tissue specialization.

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