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J Physiol. 1994 Mar 1;475(2):267-75.

Developmental changes in hypoxia-induced catecholamine release from rat carotid body, in vitro.

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Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510.


1. Developmental changes in free tissue catecholamine levels were studied using Nafion-coated, carbon fibre electrodes placed in rat carotid bodies, in vitro. Simultaneously, single fibre chemoreceptor afferent activity was recorded from the sinus nerve. Five age groups were examined: 1, 2, 6, 10 and 20-30 days of age. 2. Using fast-scan voltammetry, similar current peaks were observed during exposure to exogenous dopamine and during superfusion with hypoxic saline. This suggests that changes in carbon fibre electrode current are due to an increase in free tissue catecholamines. 3. Baseline catecholamine levels were significantly less in the 1-6 day age groups compared to 10 day and 20-30 day rats. 4. During 1 min of hypoxia the peak concentration of tissue catecholamine was significantly less in the 1 day compared to the 2 day age groups, and these were less than in 10 day and 20-30 day rats. 5. Peak nerve response during hypoxia increased with age from 4.5 +/- 0.6 Hz in the 1 day to 10.5 +/- 1.6 Hz in the 6 day and to 15.5 +/- 2.2 Hz in the 20-30 day rats. 6. We conclude that (1) resting free tissue catecholamine levels increase with age in the newborn period, (2) hypoxia causes enhanced catecholamine release, and (3) the magnitude of the release increases in the postnatal period as does the nerve activity.

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