Responsiveness to beta-adrenergic receptor stimulation: the effects of age are cardioselective

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1982 Dec;14(6):821-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.1982.tb02043.x.


1 To examine the influence of age on beta-adrenergic receptor mechanisms, we have observed the cardiovascular, bronchial and metabolic effects of an intravenous infusion of the beta-adrenoceptor agonist terbutaline in healthy young and elderly female subjects (mean ages 20.9 and 72.1 years respectively). 2 There was a highly significant fall in systolic blood pressure in the elderly, in contrast to the rise in systolic pressure seen in the young subjects. A similar fall in diastolic pressure occurred in both groups, indicating comparable beta-adrenoceptor-mediated vasodilatation. The fall in mean arterial pressure was significantly greater in the old than in the young subjects. The increase in heart rate was significantly less in the elderly. 3 Changes in plasma glucose and potassium during the infusion were similar in the two groups. 4 The observed abnormality of myocardial sensitivity to beta-adrenergic receptor stimulation, which is not associated with a generalized blunting of beta-adrenoceptor mediated effects, may significantly impair autonomic cardiovascular regulation in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Female
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Potassium / blood
  • Pulse / drug effects
  • Terbutaline / pharmacology


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Blood Glucose
  • Terbutaline
  • Potassium