Effect of heart failure on catecholamine granule morphology and storage in chromaffin cells

Sushil K. Mahata, Hong Zheng, Sumana Mahata, Xuefei Liu, Kaushik P. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


One of the key mechanisms involved in sympathoexcitation in chronic heart failure (HF) is the activation of the adrenal glands. Impact of the elevated catecholamines on the hemodynamic parameters has been previously demonstrated. However, studies linking the structural effects of such overactivation with secretory performance and cell metabolism in the adrenomedullary chromaffin cells in vivo have not been previously reported. In this study, HF was induced in male Sprague-Dawley rats by ligation of the left coronary artery. Five weeks after surgery, cardiac function was assessed by ventricular hemodynamics. HF rats showed increased adrenal weight and adrenal catecholamine levels (norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine) compared with sham-operated rats. Rats with HF demonstrated increased small synaptic and dense core vesicle in splanchnic-adrenal synapses indicating trans-synaptic activation of catecholamine biosynthetic enzymes, increased endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi lumen width to meet the demand of increased catecholamine synthesis and release, and more mitochondria with dilated cristae and glycogen to accommodate for the increased energy demand for the increased biogenesis and exocytosis of catecholamines from the adrenal medulla. These findings suggest that increased trans-synaptic activation of the chromaffin cells within the adrenal medulla may lead to increased catecholamines in the circulation which in turn contributes to the enhanced neurohumoral drive, providing a unique mechanistic insight for enhanced catecholamine levels in plasma commonly observed in chronic HF condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-323
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Catecholamines
  • Chromaffin cells
  • Heart failure
  • Sympathetic activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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