Although alcoholic cardiomyopathy has been difficult to reproduce in animals, turkeys fed 5% ethanol develop a dilated congestive cardiomyopathy. We therefore used this model to examine the adrenergic response to left ventricular dysfunction induced by alcohol. In normal turkeys, norepinephrine in kidneys decreased markedly with age from 1 day to 2 mo, with a similar but less dramatic decrease in cardiac norepinephrine. By 2 mo, chronic alcohol ingestion depleted cardiac norepinephrine compared with controls (217 ± 22 vs. 316 ± 41 ng/g, P < 0.05), even though cardiac norepinephrine is relatively low in turkeys compared with many other animals and humans. Norepinephrine in aorta was also decreased with alcohol administration, but kidney norepinephrine was unaffected. Dopamine was unaltered in any of the organs studied. Plasma norepinephrine is normally high in turkeys with arterial levels greater than venous (2,898 ± 746 vs. 1,987 ± 531 pg/ml at 2 mo). Venous plasma norepinephrine did not differ from control (2,595 ± 547 pg/ml) after 2 mo of alcohol. Thus, as in humans, cardiomyopathy in alcohol- fed turkeys is associated with reduced cardiac norepinephrine, but unlike humans with cardiomyopathy, circulating norepinephrine remains normal.
- congestive heart failure