Exercise effect on canine and miniswine cardiac catecholamines and enkephalins

Barbara A. Barron, M. Harold Laughlin, Patricia A. Gwirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Chronic exercise changes cardiac function and responsiveness to autonomic control. Catecholamines and enkephalins are neuroendocrine transmitters involved in autonomic regulation and signaling. We hypothesized that intermittent increased sympathetic stimulation caused by exercise training would decrease cardiac catecholamine and enkephalin content. Dogs and miniswine were exercise trained and hearts extracted for catecholamine and enkephalin measurements. Atrial catecholamine content is greater than ventricular content in dog heart which is in keeping with the greater atrial neuronal density. In contrast, porcine epinephrine content was evenly distributed across heart sections and norepinephrine content was greater on the right side than the left. Changes in miniswine and dog heart catecholamine content after exercise training were different. Canine cardiac norepinephrine content decreased and porcine norepinephrine content increased. This indicates a difference in cardiac adrenergic control in miniswine versus canines. Methionine-enkephalin (met-enk) distribution across canine heart is uniform, unlike the miniswine, where the atria contain more than the ventricles. Proenkephalin processing produces four met-enk sequences and one met-enk-arg-phe; despite this, ventricles of both species contain more met-enk-arg-phe immunoreactivity than met-enk. Therefore, proenkephalin processing is incomplete in heart tissue. Exercise training in the dog resulted in decreased cardiac me-enk, decreased left atrial met-enk-arg-phe, and increased ventricular met-enk-arg-phe. Porcine cardiac enkephalin concentration was unchanged by training. The changes in the enkephalins may be explained by changes in proenkephalin processing and/or release. Met-enk- arg-phe is particularly good at modulating vagal stimulation of the canine heart. The changes in tissue content seen after exercise training may be a result of the exercise-induced change in autonomic tone to the heart. These data suggest species dependent changes in autonomic regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1338-1343
Number of pages6
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1997


  • Dogs
  • Epinephrine
  • Heart
  • Met-enkephalin
  • Met-enkephalin-arg- phe
  • Norepinephrine
  • Pigs


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