Plasma Noradrenaline, Platelet α2‐Adrenoceptors, and Functional Scores during Ethanol Withdrawal

A. J. Smith*, P. J. Brent, D. A. Henry, A. Foy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Plasma noradrenaline and platelet α2‐adrenoceptor density (sites/cell using 3H‐rauwolscine with and without phentolamine) were correlated with withdrawal score in 23 hospitalized patients undergoing ethanol withdrawal. Control groups for plasma noradrenaline were 25 patients admitted to hospital for elective gastroscopy and 12 laboratory workers accustomed to venipuncture. Controls for platelet α2‐adrenoceptor measurements were a separate group of 31 normal subjects with a mean age close to that of the patients' withdrawing from ethanol. Plasma noradrenaline was significantly higher in the patients undergoing ethanol withdrawal than in patients admitted to hospital for elective endoscopy. Twelve laboratory controls had plasma noradrenaline levels significantly lower than either patient group. A significant though poor statistical correlation existed between ethanol withdrawal score and simultaneously determined plasma noradrenaline level. Platelet α2‐adrenoceptor sites/cell were reduced in ethanol withdrawal compared with the normal controls. Platelet α2‐adrenoceptor sites/cell increased over the first 24 hr of ethanol withdrawal but remained significantly lower than control values. The change in platelet adrenoceptors was accompanied by a fall in mean plasma noradrenaline. Thus, the stress of hospital admission itself is associated with an increase in plasma noradrenaline, but ethanol withdrawal enhances this increase, which is accompanied by and probably causes a reduction in platelet α2‐adrenoceptor numbers. These changes begin to return towards normal within 24 hr as the withdrawal reaction subsides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-502
Number of pages6
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1990
Externally publishedYes


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