Sympathetic neuronal activity in diabetic and non-diabetic subjects with peripheral arterial occlusive disease

Klin Wochenschr. 1991 Apr 4;69(6):233-8. doi: 10.1007/BF01666848.


Despite the vasoconstrictory influence of the alpha-adrenergic system on the peripheral blood circulation the results of the sympathectomy were not satisfying in the therapy of peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD). The aim of the present investigation was to clarify the pathophysiologic mechanisms of this clinical observation. Free and sulfoconjugated catecholamines were determined in the femoral artery, vein, and cubital vein of 19 healthy controls, 21 non-diabetic patients with PAOD stage II, 8 non-diabetic (PAOD IV) and 20 diabetic patients (D IV) with PAOD stage IV. In comparison with controls and group PAOD II an increased sympathoneuronal tone in group PAOD IV was evident at rest. Sympathetic activation was not restricted to the affected limb, since femoral and cubital venous norepinephrine levels were not different and plasma epinephrine fractional extraction (PEFE) was not altered by angiopathy. The lower sympathoneuronal activation in the group D IV may be attributed to an impaired pain perception or a reduced dopamine beta-hydroxylase activity indicated by a lower ratio of norepinephrine to dopamine. The failing long-term efficacy of lumbar sympathectomy in critical arterial limb disease may be explained by marked spontaneous sympathicolysis in diabetics, whereas in non-diabetics with sympathetic activation other mechanisms like development of unilateral Mönckeberg sclerosis, progression of proximal arterial occlusion or induction of steal effects have to be discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / surgery
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / surgery
  • Dopamine / blood
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery
  • Femoral Vein
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Sympathectomy
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology*


  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine