Free plasma catecholamine levels in healthy subjects: A basal and dynamic study. The influence of age

F. Blandini, E. Martignoni, G. V. Melzi D'Eril, L. Biasio, G. Sances, C. Lucarelli, V. Rizzo, A. Costa, G. Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied the levels of free plasma noradrenaline (norepinephrine, NE), adrenaline (epinephrine, E), and dopamine (DA) in 143 normal subjects, either basally or, in a part of them, in response to tour tests stimulating the sympathoadrenomedullary activity: the tilt-table test (TTT), the cold-pressor test (CPT), the mental-arithmetic test (MAT), and the insulin tolerance test (ITT). In both cases we evaluated the influence of age, which is considered the main physiological variable affecting the peripheral sympathetic activity. A normal distribution of values was observed, in the basal study, only for NE, while E and particularly, DA levels were distributed in an non-homogeneous fashion; a direct correlation was observed between age of subjects and NE levels, while neither E, nor DA levels showed any correlation with the aging process; sex did not influence any of the catecholamines. In the dynamic study, CPT, ITT and, above all, TTT elicited a significant rise in NE levels, while the E release was greatly stimulated by the insulin-induced hypoglycaemia. Neither NE, nor E levels rose after the MAT stimulation. Also in this case, the elderly showed an increased noradrenergic responsiveness when compared with the young subjects, confirming the existence of an 'up-regulation' of the peripheral sympathetic tone in old people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • Adrenaline
  • Ageing
  • Dopamine
  • Noradrenaline
  • Stress tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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