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Context - Dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) deficiency is a rare genetic disorder characterized by failure to convert dopamine to norepinephrine. DBH-deficient patients lack sympathetic adrenergic function and are therefore predisposed to orthostatic hypotension. DBH-deficient mice exhibit hyperinsulinemia, lower plasma glucose levels, and insulin resistance due to loss of tonic sympathetic inhibition of insulin secretion. The impact of DBH deficiency on glucose homeostasis in humans is unknown.
Case Description - We describe the metabolic profile of an adolescent female DBH-deficient patient. The patient underwent genetic testing, cardiovascular autonomic function testing, and evaluation of insulin secretion and sensitivity with hyperglycemic clamp under treatment-naive conditions. All procedures were repeated after 1 year of treatment with the norepinephrine prodrug droxidopa (300 mg, 3 times a day). Genetic testing showed a homozygous mutation in the DBH gene (rs74853476). Under treatment-naive conditions, she had undetectable plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, resulting in sympathetic noradrenergic failure and orthostatic hypotension (-32 mm Hg supine to seated). She had high adiposity (41%) and fasting plasma insulin levels (25 μU/mL), with normal glucose (91 mg/dL). Hyperglycemic clamp revealed increased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and insulin resistance. Droxidopa restored plasma norepinephrine and improved orthostatic tolerance, with modest effects on glucose homeostasis.
Conclusions - We provide evidence for impairment in cardiovascular autonomic regulation, hyperinsulinemia, enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, and insulin resistance in a DBH-deficient patient. These metabolic derangements were not corrected by chronic droxidopa treatment. These findings provide insight into the pathophysiology and treatment of DBH deficiency and into the importance of catecholaminergic mechanisms to resting metabolism.
Copyright © 2017 by the Endocrine Society
BACKGROUND - Patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) are routinely instructed to avoid performing the Valsalva maneuver for fear of syncope or sudden cardiac death. The mechanism of this action has not been elucidated. We conducted a case-control trial of nine patients with PAH and 15 healthy control subjects to determine if systemic hemodynamic changes during the Valsalva maneuver in these patients invoke greater susceptibility to syncope than healthy control subjects. Metrics commonly employed in autonomic testing were used to assess the degree of autonomic failure.
METHODS - Common Valsalva parameters, including adrenergic baroreflex sensitivity, pressure recovery time, systolic BP (SBP) recovery, diastolic BP (DBP) recovery, mean arterial pressure recovery, and the Valsalva ratio, were calculated. Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare continuous variables. The primary end point was adrenergic baroreflex sensitivity.
RESULTS - Patients with PAH had lower adrenergic baroreflex sensitivity (9.7 ± 4.6 mm Hg/s vs 18.8 ± 9.2 mm Hg/s; P = .005), longer pressure recovery time (3.6 ± 2.5 s vs 1.7 ± 0.8 s; P = .008), similar SBP recovery (-13 ± 11 mm Hg vs -12 ± 23 mm Hg; P = .640), less DBP recovery (-1 ± 12 mm Hg vs 13 ± 14 mmHg; P = .025), less mean arterial pressure recovery (-5 ± 11 mm Hg vs 5 ± 17 mm Hg; P = .048), and a decreased Valsalva ratio (1.25 ± 0.11 vs 1.60 ± 0.22; P < .001) compared with healthy control subjects.
CONCLUSIONS - Compared with healthy control subjects, patients with PAH are more susceptible to syncope during the Valsalva maneuver because of autonomic dysfunction causing cerebral hypoperfusion. These study patients with PAH exhibited a degree of susceptibility to syncope similar to a spectrum of patients with intermediate autonomic failure who typically experience a SBP drop of 10 to 30 mm Hg with standing.
Copyright © 2016 American College of Chest Physicians. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PURPOSE - To report the ophthalmic findings in young patients with dopamine β-hydroxylase deficiency and to assess them in the context of other reports in an attempt to discern if ophthalmic criteria may assist in early detection of this debilitating, yet treatable, disorder.
DESIGN - Prospective, observational case series.
METHODS - An ophthalmic examination, including measuring intraocular and systemic blood pressures while supine, sitting, and standing, and eyelid function and pupillary function testing, was completed on 3 young patients with recently documented dopamine β-hydroxylase deficiency at a single institution.
RESULTS - Mean arterial blood pressures were 90.1 ± 18.5 mm Hg supine, 79.1 ± 25.7 mm Hg sitting, and 45.8 ± 11.6 mm Hg standing (P = .021). Mean intraocular pressures in these patients were 15.8 ± 1.0 mm Hg supine, 15.0 ± 3.6 mm Hg sitting, and 7.7 ± 2.3 mm Hg standing (P = .03). Mean palpebral fissure, levator function, and margin reflex distance were 8.2 ± 1.0 mm, 16.0 ± 0 mm, and 2.8 ± 0.6 mm, respectively. Measurable miosis was present in only 1 patient, and pupillary supersensitivity to 2.5% phenylephrine was not observed.
CONCLUSIONS - The ophthalmologic findings of the patients in this case series documented mild ptosis and striking orthostatic reductions in intraocular pressure and mean arterial blood pressure, as might be expected with a lack of intrinsic sympathetic function. Orthostatic intraocular pressure and mean arterial blood pressure may be a helpful early screening tool for autonomic dysfunction in children undergoing a ptosis evaluation.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
OBJECTIVE - To report on the response to therapy in a patient with autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy with a high titer of an autoantibody directed against the α-3 subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) of the autonomic ganglia.
DESIGN - Case report.
SETTING - University-based referral center for autonomic dysfunction.
PATIENT - Patient with prior indolent B-cell lymphoma who presented with symptomatic orthostatic hypotension and autonomic failure and was found to have a high titer of nAChR antibody.
INTERVENTION - Plasma exchange and rituximab therapy (both initial 4-week therapy and maintenance therapy).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES - Autonomic ganglionic antibody titer; the autonomic assessments were the presence of orthostatic hypotension, the concentration of plasma norepinephrine, and quantitative sweat testing.
RESULTS - Treatment with rituximab followed by plasma exchange significantly decreased the nAChR antibody titers for a short time, and then the titers increased. The titers suppressed to almost undetectable levels once regular maintenance therapy with rituximab was initiated. Reduction in nAChR antibody titer resulted in a decrease in orthostatic hypotension, an increased concentration of upright plasma norepinephrine, improvement in some sweat function, and improvement in symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS - Long-term rituximab therapy suppressed autoantibody production to undetectable levels over the course of 2 years and resulted in sustained clinical improvement in this patient with debilitating autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy. More data are needed before rituximab therapy can be recommended as routine therapy for this disorder.
Orthostatic Hypotension (OH) is a common manifestation of blood pressure dysregulation. OH takes a heavy toll on quality of life. It has many potential etiologies, and many effects of aging can increase susceptibility to OH. Neurological disorders are especially likely to cause severe OH. In this brief review, the pathogenesis of OH is considered, particularly in terms of autonomic neuropathy, multiple system atrophy (MSA), pure autonomic failure, baroreflex failure, and dopamine beta hydroxylase deficiency. While OH is difficult to treat, its control greatly enhances the quality of life.
BACKGROUND - Previous studies of patients with postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) have been hampered by relatively small cohorts, failure to control medications and diet, and inconsistent testing procedures.
METHODS - The Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center Database provided results of posture studies performed in 165 patients and 66 normal controls after dietary and medication restrictions. All posture studies were performed after an overnight fast and > or =30 minutes of supine rest.
RESULTS - In both the supine and standing positions, heart rate (HR) and plasma concentrations of norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine, and dopamine were higher in patients with POTS compared with the healthy controls. Supine diastolic blood pressure (BP) was also elevated in POTS, whereas supine plasma l-3,4-dihydroxyphenyalanine was reduced. In an analysis of patient subgroups with either an upright plasma NE > or = 3.54 nM (high NE) or an upright plasma NE < 3.54 nM (normal NE), HR and BP were greater in the patient subgroup with high NE. In addition to these significant differences in hemodynamic and catechol measurements, we demonstrated that supine and standing plasma aldosterone and the aldosterone/renin ratio were decreased in patients with POTS. Plasma renin activity (PRA) tended to be higher in patients, and standing HR for those in the highest PRA quartile was significantly greater than for those in the lowest PRA quartile.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results from larger cohorts of patients and controls than previously studied confirm published findings and contribute additional evidence of sympathetic activation in postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Abnormalities in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system may also contribute to the POTS phenotype.
Patients with autonomic failure provide a unique opportunity to study the role of sympathetic function on the regulation of blood volume. These patients have a reversal of the normal diurnal variation in urine output and have twice as much natriuresis during the night. Autonomic failure patients are also unable to conserve sodium and fail to decrease natriuresis in response to dietary sodium restriction. Whereas normal subjects are able to maintain blood pressure within narrow values throughout a wide range of plasma volumes, blood pressure is linearly correlated to changes in plasma volume in autonomic failure patients. Fludrocortisone is often used to increase plasma volume in these patients, but this effect is only transient; its long-term effectiveness probably is due to potentiation of the pressor effects of norepinephrine. On the other hand, epoetin-alpha is effective in correcting the mild anemia that autonomic failure patients commonly have and improves their orthostatic hypotension in part by increasing intravascular volume. Autonomic failure patients, therefore, illustrate the role the sympathetic nervous system has in the regulation of sodium and volume. Conversely, a high salt diet induces sympathoinhibition in normal subjects. Paradoxically, sympathetic activity is increased in patients with salt-sensitive hypertension and contributes to their increase in blood pressure. Thus, in both these conditions the feedback mechanisms involving the sympathetic nervous system and volume homeostasis are impaired.
Atomoxetine, a selective norepinephrine transporter blocker, could increase blood pressure by elevating norepinephrine concentration in peripheral sympathetic neurons. This effect may be masked in healthy subjects by central sympatholytic mechanisms. To test this hypothesis we studied the pressor effect of 18 mg of atomoxetine (pediatric dose) in 21 patients with damage of the central (10 subjects) and peripheral (11 subjects) autonomic nervous system. Atomoxetine was administered in a randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled fashion, and blood pressure and heart rate were measured at baseline and for 60 minutes after drug intake. Atomoxetine acutely increased seated and standing systolic blood pressure in patients with central autonomic failure by 54+/-26 (mean+/-standard deviation; P=0.004) and 45+/-23 mm Hg (P=0.016), respectively, as compared with placebo. At the end of the observation period the mean seated systolic blood pressure in the atomoxetine group was in the hypertensive range (149+/-26, range 113 to 209 mm Hg). However, in patients with peripheral autonomic failure, atomoxetine did not elicit a pressor response; seated and standing systolic blood pressure increased by 4+/-18 mm Hg (P=0.695) and 0.6+/-8 mm Hg (P=0.546) with atomoxetine as compared with placebo. In conclusion, atomoxetine induces a dramatic increase in blood pressure in patients with central autonomic failure even at very low doses. These findings suggest that a functional central sympatholytic pathway is essential to avoid hypertension in patients treated with this drug. Caution should be exercised when this medication is used in patients with milder form of autonomic impairment.
Postprandial hypotension is an important clinical condition that predisposes to syncope, falls, angina, and cerebrovascular events. The magnitude of the fall in blood pressure after meals depends on enteric glucose availability. We hypothesized that acarbose, an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor that decreases glucose absorption in the small intestine, would attenuate postprandial hypotension. Acarbose or placebo was given 20 minutes before a standardized meal in 13 patients with postprandial hypotension in the setting of autonomic failure (age: 65+/-2.64 years; body mass index: 25+/-1.08 kg/m(2); supine plasma norepinephrine: 110+/-26.6 pg/mL). Four patients were studied in a single-blind protocol and 9 patients in a double-blind, randomized, crossover fashion. Patients were studied supine, and blood pressure, heart rate, and neuroendocrine parameters were obtained at baseline and for 90 minutes after meal intake. After adjusting for potential confounders, acarbose significantly attenuated the postprandial fall in systolic and diastolic blood pressures by 17 mm Hg (95% CI: 7 to 28; P=0.003) and 9 mm Hg (95% CI: 5 to 14; P=0.001), respectively. Furthermore, acarbose effectively reduced plasma levels of insulin, a known vasodilator, by 11 microU/mL (95% CI: 5 to 18; P=0.001) compared with placebo. After adjusting for insulin levels, the attenuation of postprandial hypotension by acarbose remained significant, indicating that additional mechanisms contribute to this effect. In conclusion, 100 mg of acarbose successfully improved postprandial hypotension in patients with severe autonomic failure. This effect is not explained solely by a reduction in insulin levels.