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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evaluation of intrinsic sympathomimetic activity of bucindolol and carvedilol in rat heart.

Many beta-adrenoceptor antagonists are weak partial agonists, possessing significant intrinsic sympathomimetic activity (ISA). Under certain conditions, ISA may be deleterious through stimulation of beta 1- and/or beta 2-adrenoceptors in the heart. Drugs with ISA are particularly problematic in the treatment of congestive heart failure since agents that activate cardiac beta-adrenoceptors, such as xamoterol, have been associated with increases in the incidence of arrhythmia and mortality. Carvedilol was recently approved for the treatment of congestive heart failure, and bucindolol is currently in large clinical trials for this indication. In the present study, the ISA of bucindolol and carvedilol was evaluated in a standard model used to investigate ISA, the pithed rat. Both compounds produced dose-dependent inhibition of the positive-chronotropic effects of the non-selective beta-adrenoceptor agonist, isoproterenol, confirming that these drugs are beta-adrenoceptor antagonists. However, cumulative administration of bucindolol (10-1,000 micrograms/kg i.v.) in the pithed rat produced a significant dose-related increase in heart rate. The maximal increase in heart rate produced by bucindolol was 44% of that obtained with isoproterenol (90 +/- 6vs. 205 +/- 11 bpm, respectively). In marked contrast, cumulative administration of carvedilol (10-1,000 micrograms/kg i.v.) had no significant effect on resting heart rate in the pithed rat. The maximal increase in heart rate elicited by bucindolol (1,000 micrograms/kg i.v.) was inhibited by treatment with the competitive beta-adrenoceptor antagonist, propranolol (99 +/- 8.7 vs. 26 +/- 2.6 bpm), confirming that the ISA observed with bucindolol was mediated through stimulation of myocardial beta-adrenoceptors. Carvedilol, which had no ISA, antagonized the ISA of bucindolol, and was as effective as propranolol in blocking the ISA of bucindolol (99 +/- 8.7 vs. 27 +/- 2.3 bpm). In summary, bucindolol and carvedilol are both potent beta-adrenoceptor antagonists in the pithed rat: however, only bucindolol possesses beta-adrenoceptor-mediated ISA.[1]


  1. Evaluation of intrinsic sympathomimetic activity of bucindolol and carvedilol in rat heart. Willette, R.N., Mitchell, M.P., Ohlstein, E.H., Lukas, M.A., Ruffolo, R.R. Pharmacology (1998) [Pubmed]
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