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Am Heart J. 1989 Jun;117(6):1310-6.

Intracellular distribution of adrenoceptors in the failing human myocardium.

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Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis 55455.


Although it is increasingly recognized that the density of cardiac membrane-bound beta adrenoceptors declines in heart failure, the mechanisms involved are unclear. Furthermore, it is not known whether cardiac alpha-1 adrenoceptors are similarly affected. Inasmuch as agonist-induced desensitization results in translocation of adrenoceptors from the plasma membrane to an intracellular vesicular fraction, we determined the intracellular distribution of cardiac adrenoceptors in two groups: group 1 (n = 9) consisted of papillary muscles from patients with mild-to-moderate heart failure undergoing valve replacement, and group 2 (n = 8) consisted of severely failing hearts removed during orthotopic cardiac transplantation. The density of cardiac beta adrenoceptors was lower in membranes from group 2 (17.8 +/- 3.3 fmol/mg protein vs 27.8 +/- 3.7 fmol/mg in group 1; (p less than 0.01), and the percentage of beta receptors recovered in the vesicular fraction was higher in group 2 (47.1 +/- 3.3% vs 36.8 +/- 5.0% in group 1; p less than 0.01). In group 1 but not group 2 there was a significant inverse correlation (r = -0.87; p less than 0.001) between the density of membrane-bound beta receptors and the percentage of beta receptors recovered in the vesicular fraction. Alpha-1 adrenoceptors were lower in both membrane and vesicular fraction of group 2 compared to group 1; in group 2 but not group 1 there was a significant negative correlation between the density of membrane-bound alpha-1 adrenoceptors and the percentage of alpha-1 receptors in the vesicular fraction (r = -0.8; p less than 0.01). These results suggest that the regulation of alpha-1 and beta adrenoceptors differs in the failing myocardium. Furthermore, agonist-induced desensitization may play a predominant role only in mild-to-moderate heart failure.

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