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Abstract

The previously described ability of reserpine and parachlorophenylalanine to induce the accumulation of lipid droplets in ventricular cardiac muscle cells of the bat was investigated. Lipid droplet accumulation was assessed qualitatively by light microscopy and quantitatively by morphometric analysis of electron micrographs. An hypothesis that the action of the drugs was an indirect one, mediated by the cardiac adrenergic innervation, was framed and tested. Lipid droplet accumulation occurred during a time of intense sympathetic activity, that of arousal from hibernation. The ability of the two drugs to produce the effect was antagonized by prior sympathectomy with 6–dopamine. The effect was mimicked by administration of exogenous norepinephrine together with inhibitors of its catabolic enzymes, monoamine oxidase and catechol-omethyl transferase. These observations are all consistent with the initial hypothesis and raise the possibility that endogenous norepinephrine in the cardiac sympathetic innervation might be, at least potentially, auto-toxic.