Effect of diazepam on endocrine and cardiovascular responses to head-up tilt in humans


Department of Medical Physiology, The Panum Institute, Blegdamsvej 3 C, DK-2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark.


Effects of the GABAergic drug diazepam (0.15 mg kg-1, i.v.) on cardiovascular and endocrine responses to 50± head-up tilt were evaluated in seven men. During the initial phase of tilt (normotensive phase), increases in heart rate (HR) and total peripheral resistance (TPR) and decreases in cardiac output were unaffected by diazepam. Also the associated increase in plasma noradrenaline did not change, while response in plasma ACTH was diminished and in plasma cortisol abolished by diazepam (F(1, 10) = 6.45; P < 0.03). After 42 ± 4 min of sustained tilt with saline (control) and 47 ± 6 min (n.s.) after diazepam, presyncopal symptoms appeared (hypotensive phase) associated with decreases in HR, MAP, and TPR (P < 0.01). This episode induced a 2–3-fold increase in plasma ACTH, β-endorphin, prolactin, cortisol (< 0.01), and a moderate increase in plasma adrenaline (P < 0.05). Diazepam did not significantly change cardiovascular and endocrine responses to the hypotensive phase of tilt. Results indicate that diazepam attenuates the cortisol part of pituitary-adrenal responses to moderate, but not to severe, central hypovolaemia in humans with no effect on cardiovascular tolerance.