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Circulation. 1990 Aug;82(2 Suppl):I12-25.

Beta-adrenergic pathways in nonfailing and failing human ventricular myocardium.

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Department of Medicine (Cardiology), University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84112.


beta-Adrenergic pathways in the human ventricular myocardium mediate the powerful positive inotropic effects of released neurotransmitters (norepinephrine) and circulating hormones (epinephrine) and the response to therapeutically administered beta-agonists. Two genetically and pharmacologically distinct receptors, beta 1 and beta 2, mediate the contractile effects of catecholamines in a similar manner. The biologic signal produced by the occupancy of beta-adrenergic receptors by catecholamine agonists is transduced, amplified, and regulated by a family of guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G proteins), which serve both stimulatory and inhibitory functions. Although the major biochemical effector of beta-adrenergic receptors is the enzyme protein--coupled directly to ion channels that regulate inotropic and electrophysiological effects. In human ventricular myocardium, heart failure produces changes in the beta-adrenergic receptor pathways that have the collective effect of reducing the degree of inotropic stimulation that may be produced by a given amount of beta-agonist. These changes include downregulation of beta 1-adrenergic receptors, uncoupling of beta 2-adrenergic receptors, and an increase in the functional activity of the inhibitory G protein. These effects in turn are probably caused by exposure to increased amounts of neurotransmitter resulting from a complex series of changes in the cardiac sympathetic nervous system. Finally, the components of the beta-receptor-G protein system may be both acutely and chronically modulated by certain kinds of pharmacological therapy. These observations underscore the importance of the adrenergic nervous system in heart failure, and they create the potential for the development of new interventional strategies designed to alter the natural history of heart muscle disease and heart failure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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