Mechanism of Hydrocortisone Potentiation of Responses to Epinephrine and Norepinephrine in Rabbit Aorta
Hydrocortisone potentiated responses of rabbit aortic strips to catecholamines (epinephrine, norepinephrine, nordefrin, isoproterenol) but not to amines lacking the catechol nucleus (phenylephrine, synephrine, methoxamine). Contractions in response to epinephrine were increased much more than those to norepinephrine. Neither the presence of cocaine nor pretreatment of the rabbits with reserpine impaired the potentiating action of hydrocortisone. Experiments with the oil immersion technique (to prevent loss of amine by diffusion from the tissue) demonstrated that hydrocortisone reduced the rate at which aortic strips inactivated epinephrine, apparently by inhibiting catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT). Known inhibitors of COMT (U-0521, tropolone, pyrogallol) potentiated responses of aortic strips to epinephrine much more than to norepinephrine and also enhanced responses to isoproterenol and nordefrin to the same extent as did hydrocortisone. Known inhibitors of COMT consistently abolished the enhancing effects of hydrocortisone without materially interfering with potentiation produced by cocaine which is mediated through an independent mechanism unrelated to amine inactivation. Hydrocortisone also abolished the enhancing effects of known COMT inhibitors. It is concluded that hydrocortisone enhances the responses of vascular smooth muscle to epinephrine and norepinephrine by inhibiting a major enzymatic pathway for the inactivation of these amines.
- aortic strips
- catecholamine inactivation
- catechol-O-methyl transferase
- smooth muscle
- oil immersion technique
- adrenal cortical steroids
- Received August 23, 1968.
- Accepted December 31, 1968.
- © 1969 American Heart Association, Inc.