Peripheral dopamine in pathophysiology of hypertension. Interaction with aging and lifestyle.
Dopamine, an ancestral catecholamine, is physiologically natriuretic and vasodilating, thus essentially protecting against hypertension. Its actions are overshadowed by the opposite effects of its main biological partner, norepinephrine, and this is accentuated with aging. Clinical observations combined with molecular biology approaches to catecholamine-synthesizing and catecholamine-metabolizing enzymes and receptors permit the identification of some inborn defects. Subtle changes in the dopamine-norepinephrine balance may account for the enhanced peripheral noradrenergic activity seen in the setting of decreased dopaminergic activity in advanced age. These changes may contribute to the diminished ability of the aged kidney to excrete a salt load, as well as to the finding that systolic blood pressure increases with age in populations with a high, but not in those with a low, intake of salt. The attainment of advanced age in Western societies with adverse lifestyle changes (mental rather than physical stress, excess salt intake, overeating, sedentarism) appears to facilitate the development of hypertension. The adaptation to all the preceding lifestyle changes necessitates an increased dopamine generation, which may initially compensate to maintain appropriate natriuresis and vasodilation since many patients with initial borderline essential hypertension express their sympathetic hyperfunction, in addition to increased norepinephrine release, by excessive dopamine release. However, the progression of hypertension is accompanied by a peripheral dopaminergic deficiency and diminished ability to excrete salt. This may represent an eventual inadequacy of a phylogenetically redundant system resulting in decreased natriuresis and vasodilation and may account for the responsiveness of established chronic hypertension to salt restriction, diuretics, and dopaminomimetic medication.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association