Terbutaline‐induced desensitization of polymorphonuclear leukocyte β2‐adrenergic receptors in young and elderly subjects

Nancy R. Zahniser, Anne Wiser, Wayne A. Cass, Pam Curella, John G. Gerber, Alan S. Nies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Potential age‐related differences in cardiovascular responsiveness and receptor regulation induced by short‐term administration of a selective β2‐adrenergic receptor agonist were investigated. Young (age range, 23 to 31 years) and elderly (age range, 64 to 73 years) healthy subjects were treated with terbutaline (5 mg, three times daily) for 5 days. Similar plasma terbutaline concentrations were achieved in the two age groups. The elderly group had higher baseline plasma norepinephrine concentrations and mean arterial pressures, neither of which were altered by terbutaline administration. During terbutaline treatment, heart rate increased in both age groups while subjects were supine but consistently increased only in the young group while subjects were standing. In both age groups, the density of β2‐adrenergic receptors on polymorphonuclear leukocyte membranes was reduced by 50% during terbutaline administration and returned to baseline values at similar rates after drug administration was stopped. Isoproterenol‐stimulated cyclic adenosine monophosphate accumulation in polymorphonuclear leukocytes from elderly subjects was regulated similarly. These findings suggest that the ability of terbutaline to increase standing heart rate is selectively impaired in the elderly, whereas the ability of polymorphonuclear leukocyte β2‐adrenergic receptors to down‐regulate and to return to baseline values is not. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (1992) 51, 432–439; doi:

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-439
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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