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Catecholamines can offset the negative effect of acidosis and raised extracellular K+ concentration in the isolated rabbit heart when these factors are changed with similar kinetics and concentrations as those observed in exercise. This effect appears to be mediated by changes in Ca2+ handling in the heart. To test the role of Ca2+ in vivo, we studied the interactive effects of infusions of KCl, lactic acid, norepinephrine (NE), and CaCl2 on cardiovascular performance in the anesthetized rabbit. After propranolol, CaCl2 was given during acidosis and hyperkalemia. Acidosis (arterial pH 7.17 +/- 0.3) markedly reduced cardiac performance, and its effects were exacerbated by hyperkalemia (7.3 +/- 0.4 mM). NE reversed the cardiac response to combined acidosis and hyperkalemia. After propranolol, arterial pH and arterial K+ concentration changed more rapidly with acidosis and hyperkalemia, combined with a faster fall in cardiac performance, but CaCl2 offset these negative hemodynamic effects. The rises in plasma Ca2+, NE, and sympathetic activity during exercise may therefore interact to ameliorate the harmful effects of acidosis and hyperkalemia.

Original publication




Journal article


J Appl Physiol (1985)

Publication Date





2391 - 2399


Acidosis, Analysis of Variance, Animals, Calcium, Calcium Chloride, Female, Heart, Hemodynamics, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Hyperkalemia, Lactates, Lactic Acid, Male, Myocardium, Norepinephrine, Physical Exertion, Potassium, Potassium Chloride, Propranolol, Rabbits