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J Clin Invest. 1996 Feb 1;97(3):713-9.

Epinephrine inhibits tumor necrosis factor-alpha and potentiates interleukin 10 production during human endotoxemia.

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Cornell University Medical College, Department of Surgery, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Short-term preexposure of mononuclear cells to epinephrine inhibits LPS-induced production of TNF, whereas preexposure for 24 h results in increased TNF production. To assess the effects of epinephrine infusions of varying duration on in vivo responses to LPS, the following experiments were performed: (a) Blood obtained from eight subjects at 4-24 h after the start of a 24-h infusion of epinephrine (30 ng/kg per min) produced less TNF after ex vivo stimulation with LPS compared with blood drawn before the start of the infusion, and (b) 17 healthy men who were receiving a continuous infusion of epinephrine (30 ng/kg per min) started either 3 h (EPI-3; n = 5) or 24 h (EPI-24; n = 6) were studied after intravenous injection of LPS (2 ng/kg, lot EC-5). EPI-3 inhibited LPS-induced in vivo TNF appearance and also increased IL-10 release (both P < 0.005 versus LPS), whereas EPI-24 only attenuated TNF secretion (P = 0.05). In separate in vitro experiments in whole blood, epinephrine increased LPS-induced IL-10 release by a combined effect on alpha and beta adrenergic receptors. Further, in LPS-stimulated blood, the increase on IL-10 levels caused by epinephrine only marginally contributed to concurrent inhibition of TNF production. Epinephrine, either endogenously produced or administered as a component of sepsis treatment, may have a net antiinflammatory effect on the cytokine network early in the course of systemic infection.

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