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Am J Cardiol. 1991 May 06;67(12):3C-5C. doi: 10.1016/0002-9149(91)90065-s.

Neuroendocrine activation in congestive heart failure.

The American journal of cardiology

J C Forfar


  1. John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, United Kingdom.

PMID: 2021117 DOI: 10.1016/0002-9149(91)90065-s


Several changes in neuroendocrine activity follow failure of cardiac function to satisfy peripheral requirements and contribute to the clinical syndromes of heart failure. Afferent pathways are poorly understood and triggers are both central and peripheral, involving attenuation of atrial and arterial baroreceptor activity. Efferent sympathetic activity is generally increased with resulting vasoconstriction, but responses are organ-specific and differ among heart, kidney, lung and skeletal muscle. Changes in cardiac sympathetic activity are inadequately understood. Enhanced cardiac norepinephrine spillover contrasts with reduced tissue concentration and impaired activity of synthetic enzymes and neuronal catecholamine uptake. Beta-receptor down-regulation further complicates overall adrenergic responsiveness and the balance between enhancement of contractile function and reduction in arrhythmia threshold. Activation of the renin-angiotensin system is potentiated by the sympathetic nervous system and may contribute to vasoconstrictor hyporesponsiveness. Angiotensin II may in turn facilitate the central and peripheral effects of sympathetic activation and the release of vasopressin from the pituitary. Our understanding of the role of vasodilator peptides in heart failure remains rudimentary. It is likely that vasoconstrictor neuroendocrine response adversely influences optimal cardiac function in heart failure and may promote arrhythmogenesis. The neuroendocrine response in individual organs, however, requires intensive study.

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