As plasma norepinephrine (NE) levels may be similar in hypertensive and normotensive subjects, the sensitivity of adrenergic receptors was investigated in patients with essential hypertension and normotensive subjects of similar age and sex. Alpha-adrenergic receptor sensitivity was measured in platelets by the specific binding of [3H]dihydroergocryptine and the NE inhibition of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1)-stimulated cyclic AMP (cAMP) production. The number of alpha-adrenergic receptors in platelets from hypertensive women was 1.5 times that in the platelets from normotensive ones, with no differences between hypertensive and normotensive women or between men and women in the affinity of the alpha-adrenergic receptor for [3H]dihydroergocryptine. PGE1-stimulated cAMP production was half as great in hypertensive as in normotensive men, while NE inhibition of PGE1-stimulated cAMP production was similar in hypertensive and normotensive men and women. [3H]Dihydroergoeryptine binding in female hypertensives, and PGE1-stimulated cAMP in male hypertensives did not differ from that in sex-matched controls. The sensitivity of the beta-adrenergic receptor, measured by [3H]dihydroalprenolol binding and cAMP production was similar in hypertensive and normotensive subjects.
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