The effects of hypoxia on catecholamine dynamics in the rat carotid body

James J. Brokaw, John T. Hansen, Douglas S. Christie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


The catecholamine content of the rat carotid body was assayed using high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. The concentration of dopamine (DA) was found to predominate over that of norepinephrine (NE) by a small margin (31 pmol/carotid body pair DA; 23 pmol/carotid body pair NE). The turnover rates of carotid body DA and NE were determined from the time-dependent decline in their concentrations following the blockade of synthesis with α-methyl-p-tyrosine. Values were obtained (DA t 1 2 = 1.9 h; NE t 1 2 = 2.3 h) which suggested a rapid turnover of carotid body catecholamines. Exposure of rats to conditions of severe hypoxia (5% O2-95% N2) failed to significantly alter either the content or turnover of carotid body catecholamines. By contrast, the concentration of carotid body DOPAC, a reflection of DA utilization, was significantly elevated following hypoxic conditions. Further, in vivo tyrosine hydroxylase activity was assessed by measuring the accumulation of carotid body DOPA after inhibiting l-aromatic amino acid decarboxylase with NSD-1015. Basal tyrosine hydroxylase activity (∼ 14-16 pmol/carotid body pair/h) also was significantly increased by acute hypoxic exposure. These results, in part, suggest that rat carotid body DA may act as a neurotransmitter whose synthesis and release are coupled to stimulus demand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-47
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1985


  • carotid body
  • catecholamines
  • hypoxia
  • metabolism
  • turnover
  • tyrosine hydroxylase activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology

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