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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1996 Jul;3(4):423-8.

High-dose catecholamine treatment decreases polymorphonuclear leukocyte phagocytic capacity and reactive oxygen production.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, University Hospital of Vienna, Austria.


Flow cytometry was used to study phagocytic function (uptake of fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled bacteria) and release of reactive oxygen products (dihydrorhodamine 123 converted to rhodamine 123) following phagocytosis by neutrophil granulocytes of heparinized whole blood treated with adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, dobutamine, or orciprenaline. Reduced neutrophil phagocytosis and reactive oxygen production were seen at 12 micrograms of adrenaline per liter (72% each compared with control values); at 120 micrograms of noradrenaline (72% each), dobutamine (83 and 80%, respectively), and orciprenaline (81 and 80%, respectively) per liter; and at 100 micrograms of dopamine per liter (66 and 70%) (P < 0.05 for all). At these dosages, neutrophil chemotaxis was reduced to < 50% of control values for all catecholamines. Treatment with catecholamines at lower dosages had no significant effect on phagocytosis or generation of reactive oxygen products or chemotaxis. The phagocytic capacity of granulocytes was related to the generation of reactive oxygen products (r = 0.789; P < 0.05). The results demonstrate that catecholamines have a suppressive effect on the response of phagocytic cells to bacterial pathogens at high therapeutic levels in blood.

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