Effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine on hemodynamic parameters and arrhythmias during a continuous infusion of amitriptyline in rats

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1993;31(3):461-71. doi: 10.3109/15563659309000414.


Epinephrine and norepinephrine were evaluated in treatment of hemodynamic compromise in amitriptyline intoxication. One hundred and one male Wistar rats were monitored hemodynamically during amitriptyline intoxication and given one of three infusion rates (0.1, 0.5 or 5.0 mg/kg/min) of either epinephrine or norepinephrine. Sixteen rats served as controls and received only glucose after intoxication. Amitriptyline intoxication lowered mean arterial pressure, heart rate, left ventricular max dP/dt, and increased left ventricular end-diastolic pressure. All doses of norepinephrine and the two higher doses of epinephrine increased mean arterial blood pressure and left ventricular max dP/dt. Heart rate increased with both drugs, more with epinephrine, but not beyond pre-intoxicated levels at any dose. Left ventricular end-diastolic pressure was unaltered by both drugs. Malignant arrhythmias appeared in 7% of all animals, whereas a progressive decline of cardiac contractility caused cardiac arrest in 36% of all animals. This suggests that myocardial depression is the aspect most likely to cause death. At intermediate doses epinephrine resulted in significantly fewer arrhythmias and lower mortality compared to norepinephrine. We conclude that epinephrine and norepinephrine each appeared effective in reversing amitriptyline-induced hemodynamic alterations. Epinephrine had fewer arrhythmogenic properties than norepinephrine and may be preferable to norepinephrine.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amitriptyline / administration & dosage
  • Amitriptyline / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / chemically induced*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects
  • Epinephrine / therapeutic use*
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Amitriptyline
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine