Infusion of epinephrine augments pressor responses to mental stress

Hypertension. 1991 Oct;18(4):467-74. doi: 10.1161/01.hyp.18.4.467.


Circulating epinephrine may facilitate neural release of norepinephrine both during and after periods of sympathoadrenal activation by stimulation of prejunctional beta-adrenergic receptors. The present study was undertaken to examine possible effects and aftereffects of epinephrine on the hemodynamic reactivity to mental stress. To this end, two strictly standardized mental stress tests were performed in 14 normotensive men during and 1 hour after double-blind infusion of epinephrine (50 ng x kg-1 x min-1) or placebo given in random order. During epinephrine infusion, the systolic pressor response to psychosocial stress was augmented (+17 versus +10 mm Hg during epinephrine and placebo, respectively; p = 0.02). This was associated with an attenuated post-stress recovery, with the result that the stress exposure induced a prolonged elevation of systolic blood pressure. Heart rate was elevated and diastolic blood pressure lowered during epinephrine infusion without any change in the reactivity to stress. One hour after the end of the epinephrine infusion resting heart rate was still maintained on a higher level independently of level of arousal, but heart rate and blood pressure responses to stress were unaffected. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that high circulating epinephrine levels amplify pressor responses to mental stress but do not support the suggestion that short-term infusion of epinephrine causes prolonged augmentation of blood pressure responses to psychosocial stress.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lower Body Negative Pressure
  • Male
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Epinephrine