Analysis of beta-adrenergic receptor mRNA levels in human ventricular biopsy specimens by quantitative polymerase chain reactions: progressive reduction of beta 1-adrenergic receptor mRNA in heart failure

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1996 Jan;27(1):146-54. doi: 10.1016/0735-1097(95)00425-4.


Objectives: This study investigated the relation between the severity of heart failure and the extent of the reduction of beta 1-adrenergic receptor messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) levels in biopsy specimens from the ventricular septum obtained during cardiac catheterization of patients with various degrees of heart failure.

Background: Heart failure is accompanied by desensitization of the beta-adrenergic receptor system, which is in part due to downregulation of beta 1-adrenergic receptors. Downregulation of beta 1-adrenergic receptors has been suggested to be caused by reductions in mRNA levels.

Methods: Because biopsy specimens were small and receptor mRNAs not abundant, mRNA levels were determined by quantitative reverse transcription/polymerase chain reactions. This method was validated by measuring synthetic ribonucleic acid (RNA) standards and samples from explanted hearts by solution hybridization assays. Both methods yielded similar results, but the polymerase chain reaction method was approximately 1,000-fold more sensitive. Sources of variations in the polymerase chain reaction were quantitated and found to be best controlled for by determination of the glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase mRNA as an endogenous control.

Results: Beta 1-adrenergic receptor mRNA levels in the biopsy specimens were decreased by 7% in mild (New York Heart Association functional class II), 26% in moderate (functional class III) and > 50% in severe heart failure (functional class IV). There was a good correlation between hemodynamic indicators of heart failure and beta 1-adrenergic receptor mRNA levels. In contrast, beta 2-adrenergic receptor mRNA levels were apparently unaffected by heart failure.

Conclusions: Reduced beta 1-adrenergic receptor mRNA levels occur early in heart failure and can be detected in septal biopsy specimens during right heart catheterization. The reduction in beta 1-adrenergic receptor expression may contribute to further loss of cardiac function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Base Sequence
  • Biopsy
  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / pathology*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Septum / chemistry
  • Heart Ventricles / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Myocardium / chemistry
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / standards
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / analysis*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / genetics
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ventricular Dysfunction / pathology
  • Ventricular Dysfunction / physiopathology


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta