Beta adrenergically mediated cardiac chronotropic and vascular smooth muscle responses during propranolol therapy and withdrawal in young and elderly persons.
Ford GA., Hoffman BB., Blaschke TF.
Aging is associated with diminished beta-adrenergic responsiveness in a variety of tissues. Desensitization of tissues secondary to the age-associated increase in sympathetic nervous system activity has been proposed as a potential explanation for diminished beta-adrenergic responsiveness. If this hypothesis is correct, then beta-blockade in older people might be expected to reverse the blunted beta-adrenergic responses of tissues having diminished responsiveness. Cardiac chronotropic responses to bolus isoproterenol (ISO) doses and ISO-induced venous smooth muscle dilatation in superficial hand veins were examined in 8 young (26.2 +/- 2.6 yrs) and 9 elderly (68.0 +/- 2.2 yrs) healthy subjects before, during, and 3 and 7 days following 2 weeks of treatment with propranolol. Baseline cardiac chronotropic responsiveness, CD25, was 1.55 +/- 0.77 mcg in the young and 5.97 +/- 2.77 mcg in the elderly subjects (p less than .01), increasing to 84 +/- 56 mcg and 194 +/- 172 mcg during treatment with propranolol. At 3 and 7 days following withdrawal of propranolol, CD25s were respectively 1.24 +/- 0.79 (p = .14) and 1.10 +/- 0.42 (p = .04) in the young and 5.63 +/- 2.34 (p = .31) and 4.85 +/- 2.37 (p = .05) in the elderly subjects. In contrast, there was no decrease in the ED50 or increase in Emax for ISO-induced venodilation of hand veins following propranolol withdrawal. These results demonstrate that both young and elderly subjects have similar increases in cardiac chronotropic responsiveness following discontinuation of beta-blockade and do not support the concept that desensitization is responsible for the diminished beta-adrenergic responsiveness seen with aging.