Although there is as yet no method which measures directly the neuronal release of noradrenaline in humans in vivo, the isotope dilution technique with [3H]noradrenaline has been applied to estimate forearm neuronal noradrenaline release into plasma. Two different equations have been developed for this purpose: one to estimate the spillover of noradrenaline into the venous effluent, and a modified formula (often referred to as the appearance rate) which may reflect more closely changes in the neuronal release of noradrenaline into the synaptic cleft, particularly during interventions that alter forearm blood flow. The present study was performed to compare the effects of two interventions known to exert contrasting actions on neuronal forearm noradrenaline release and forearm blood flow. Intra-arterial infusion of sodium nitroprusside at doses without systemic effect increases forearm blood flow, but not neuronal noradrenaline release. In contrast, lower-body negative pressure at -25 mmHg causes forearm vasoconstriction by stimulating neuronal noradrenaline release. During sodium nitroprusside infusion, forearm noradrenaline spillover increased from 1.1±0.3 to 2.2±1.0 pmol·min-1·100 ml-1 (P < 0.05), whereas the forearm noradrenaline appearance rate was unchanged. Lower-body negative pressure did not affect the forearm noradrenaline spillover rate, but increased the forearm noradrenaline appearance rate from 3.4±0.4 pmol·min-1·100 ml-1 at baseline to 5.0±0.9 pmol·min-1·100 ml-1 (P < 0.05). These results indicate that the noradrenaline appearance rate provides the better approximation of changes in forearm neuronal noradrenaline release in response to stimuli which alter local blood flow.

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