6/5/13

norepinephrine

Because norepinephrine [nor-ep-i-NEF-rin] is the neuromediator of adrenergic nerves, it should theoretically stimulate all types of adrenergic receptors. In practice, when the drug is given in therapeutic doses to humans, the α-adrenergic receptor is most affected

1. Cardiovascular actions:

a. Vasoconstriction: Norepinephrine causes a rise in peripheral resistance due to intense vasoconstriction of most vascular beds, including the kidney (α1 effect). Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures increase.


Figure : Cardiovascular effects of intravenous infusion of norepinephrine.


 [Note: Norepinephrine causes greater vasoconstriction than does epinephrine, because it does not induce compensatory vasodilation via β2 receptors on blood vessels supplying skeletal muscles, etc. The weak β2 activity of norepinephrine also explains why it is not useful in the treatment of asthma.] 


b. Baroreceptor reflex: In isolated cardiac tissue, norepinephrine stimulates cardiac contractility; however, in vivo, little if any cardiac stimulation is noted. This is due to the increased blood pressure that induces a reflex rise in vagal activity by stimulating the baroreceptors. This reflex bradycardia is sufficient to counteract the local actions of norepinephrine on the heart, although the reflex compensation does not affect the positive inotropic effects of the drug.


c. Effect of atropine pretreatment: If atropine, which blocks the transmission of vagal effects, is given before norepinephrine, then norepinephrine stimulation of the heart is evident as tachycardia. 



2. Therapeutic uses: 

Norepinephrine is used to treat shock, because it increases vascular resistance and, therefore, increases blood pressure. However, metaraminol is favored, because it does not reduce blood flow to the kidney, as does norepinephrine. Other actions of norepinephrine are not considered to be clinically significant. It is never used for asthma or in combination with local anesthetics. Norepinephrine is a potent vasoconstrictor and will cause extravasation (discharge of blood from vessel into tissues) along the injection site. [Note: When norepinephrine is used as a drug, it is sometimes called levarterenol [leev-are-TER-a-nole].] 



3. Pharmacokinetics: 

Norepinephrine may be given IV for rapid onset of action. The duration of action is 1 to 2 minutes following the end of the infusion period. It is poorly absorbed after subcutaneous injection and is destroyed in the gut if administered orally. Metabolism is similar to that of epinephrine.





 4. Adverse effects: 

These are similar to those of epinephrine. In addition, norepinephrine may cause blanching and sloughing of skin along injected vein (due to extreme vasoconstriction).



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