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Ann Surg. 1987 Dec;206(6):744-51.

Adrenergic control of adipocyte lipolysis in trauma and sepsis.

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Department of Surgery, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York.


Adipocyte lipolysis and its adrenergic control were studied in vitro from normal patients and those with trauma and sepsis. The adrenergic receptors were studied in terms of their responsiveness, a measure of the postreceptor mechanism, and their sensitivity, a measure of the receptor number or affinity. With early trauma, beta-adrenergic responsiveness and receptor number were significantly decreased. This is desensitization of the beta-receptors with down regulation and indicates increased in vivo lipolysis in early injury. After 4 days these changes had returned to normal. Early sepsis resulted in a significant increase in beta- and alpha-receptor responsiveness with beta-upregulation. This indicated hypersensitivity of the adipocyte adrenergic receptors and suggests the presence of an in vivo block of the adrenergic receptors in early sepsis. This would decrease adipocyte lipolysis. After 4 days there was a decrease in beta-receptor responsiveness in the patients with sepsis, indicating that the adrenergic receptor block was no longer present and adipocyte adrenergic stimulated lipolysis was increased.

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