Adrenergic mechanisms in control of plasma lipid concentrations

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1982 Apr 17;284(6323):1145-8. doi: 10.1136/bmj.284.6323.1145.


The mechanisms of the changes in plasma lipids concentrations observed after beta-blockade were examined in 53 patients with hypertension receiving treatment with atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol, and oxprenolol in a randomised cross-over trial. Significant increases in mean plasma total and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) triglyceride and reductions in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and free fatty acids concentrations wer observed with all four drugs, the increase in plasma triglyceride concentration being greatest after propranolol and oxprenolol. No significant changes were observed in total of LDL cholesterol concentrations, but HDL:LDL ratios and HDL cholesterol as a proportion of total cholesterol fell significantly. Thus plasma lipid concentrations should be monitored after three to six months of long-term treatment. Changes in triglyceride, HDL cholesterol and free fatty acid concentrations were associated with a highly significant reduction in clearance of soya oil (Intralipid) in 25 patients studied but were unrelated to changes in blood pressure. The fall in HDL cholesterol and rise in free fatty acid concentrations were significantly less in those with initially reduced HDL cholesterol or raised free fatty acid concentrations respectively. It is proposed that unopposed alpha stimulation inhibits lipoprotein lipase with a subsequent rise in plasma triglyceride and fall in HDL cholesterol concentration. Analysis of the relation between pretreatment concentrations and subsequent changes suggests that excessive alpha stimulation may impair production of HDL cholesterol in those with low HDL cholesterol concentrations before treatment. Subtle catecholamine-mediated changes in plasma lipid concentrations might provide a mechanism for the relation between stress and the development of cardiovascular events.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Atenolol / therapeutic use
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / blood
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / blood
  • Male
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use
  • Oxprenolol / therapeutic use
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use
  • Random Allocation
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Atenolol
  • Oxprenolol
  • Cholesterol
  • Propranolol
  • Metoprolol