Adrenaline causes potassium influx in skeletal muscle and potassium efflux in cardiac muscle in rats: the role of Na/K ATPase

A. D. Struthers, D. L. Davies, D. Harland, R. A. Brown, J. S. Price, C. Quigley, M. J. Brown

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    Previous in vitro evidence suggests that adrenaline causes K influx in skeletal muscle by stimulating a ouabain sensitive Na/K ATPase membrane pump. However in rabbits, adrenaline induced hypokalaemia was not significantly altered by pretreatment with digoxin (50 micrograms/kg). Rats were infused with adrenaline or saline after being given a tracer dose of 42KCl. Adrenaline caused a highly significant uptake of 42K in skeletal muscle and a decrease in 42K uptake in ventricle. Rats were also studied after receiving a high dose of digoxin (1.4 mg/kg) which by itself produced a significant increase in plasma K, a decrease in plasma Na and a decreased uptake of 42K in ventricle and lung. These results suggest that adequate widespread Na/K ATPase inhibition had been achieved by this dose of digoxin but despite this, adrenaline still caused hypokalaemia and also still caused significant 42K tissue uptake by skeletal muscle. These results suggest that adrenaline causes K influx by skeletal muscle and K efflux by cardiac tissue. Furthermore, the former mechanism was not inhibited by pretreatment with digoxin.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-108
    Number of pages8
    JournalLife Sciences
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 1987


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