Adrenomedullary Secretion of DOPA, Catecholamines, Catechol Metabolites, and Neuropeptides


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. G. M. Tyce, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St. SW, 3-85 Medical Sciences Bldg., Rochester, MN 55905, U.S.A.


Abstract: Catecholamines and their metabolites have been proposed as markers of sympathetic nervous system stimulation. However, the adrenal medulla is a rich source of catecholamines and catecholamine metabolites and may play a significant role in plasma levels of these compounds. In addition to adrenal catecholamine metabolite efflux, the role of the catecholamine precursor 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) has not been fully evaluated. The simultaneous effluxes of catecholamines, metabolites, DOPA, and neuropeptides were measured in perfusates from isolated dog adrenals. The relative abundance of compounds detected consistently during unstimulated conditions was epinephrine ≫ norepinephrine > 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycol > metanephrine > normetanephrine > dopamine > 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid > 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol ≥ DOPA ≫ [Met]enkephalin ≫ neuropeptide Y. Effluxes of analytes were not affected by cocaine and the ratios of catecholamines to metabolites increased dramatically with carbachol stimulation, consistent with negligible reuptake into adrenal cells. Thus, most of the 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycol is expected to be derived from epinephrine and norepinephrine subsequent to translocation from chromaffin vesicles into the cytosol. The efflux of DOPA increased dramatically during stimulation with 30 µM carbachol in a calcium-dependent manner. Efflux of DOPA during the initial stabilization period of the perfusion preparation declined exponentially, in parallel with the effluxes of the catecholamines and neuropeptides but not with metabolites. Evoked release of DOPA was Ca2+-dependent. These data suggest that DOPA can be stored and released exocytotically from chromaffin granules.