Airway responses to low concentrations of adrenaline and noradrenaline in normal subjects

Q J Exp Physiol. 1985 Apr;70(2):203-9. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.1985.sp002903.


Airway, cardiovascular and metabolic responses were measured in six normal subjects during separate infusions of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Four incremental infusion rates of the catecholamines (4, 10, 25 and 62.5 ng X kg-1 X min-1) produced circulating levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline within the physiological range. Maximal expiratory flow rates at 25% of vital capacity measured from partial flow-volume curves increased sequentially with increasing adrenaline concentration. Increases in maximal expiratory flow rates at 25% and 50% of vital capacity measured from complete flow-volume curves were not statistically significant, nor were the changes in specific conductance. Small but insignificant changes were observed in heart rate and blood pressure during adrenaline infusion. Plasma glucose increased and serum potassium fell during adrenaline infusion. No significant airway, cardiovascular or metabolic responses were seen during noradrenaline infusion. These results suggest that adrenaline, at concentrations found in physiological circumstances, influences flow rates in small airways. Circulating noradrenaline does not appear to be important in the control of airway calibre in normal subjects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albuterol / pharmacology
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Bronchi / drug effects*
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Norepinephrine / pharmacology*
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Potassium / blood
  • Pulse / drug effects
  • Respiration
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Blood Glucose
  • Albuterol
  • Potassium
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine