Propranolol blocks metabolic rate increase but not ventilatory acclimatization to 4300 m

Lorna Grindlay Moore, Allen Cymerman, Shao Yung Huang, Robert E. McCullough, Rosann G. McCullough, Paul B. Rock, Andrew Young, Patricia Young, John V. Weil, John T. Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Previously, we found resting metabolic rate increased at high altitude but the mechanism and consequences of this increase were unclear. We sought to test the role of beta-sympathetic activation for increasing metabolic rate and the contribution of an increase in metabolic rate to raising total ventilation at altitude. Following baseline studies at sea level, two groups of six healthy male subjects received either placebo or propranolol (80 mg/8 h) for 3 days prior to ascent to Pikes Peak (4300 m) where treatment was continued for 15 days. O2 consumption increased in placebo-treated subjects with a rise of 20 ± 5%(X ± SEM) on day 1 and no change 0 ± 7% in propranolol-treated subjects (difference between groups, P < 0.05). The increase in total ventilation upon ascent was 28 ± 2% in the placebo group vs 9 ± 7% in the propranolol group (P < 0.05) and was correlated with metabolic rate in individual subjects. Decreasing end-tidal PCO2, taken as an index of ventilatory acclimization, was similar in both groups. Thus, beta-sympathetic activation appears to increase metabolic rate upon ascent to high altitude and lead to a proportionate elevation in total ventilation but does not alter ventilatory acclimization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1987


  • Beta-adrenergic
  • High altitude
  • O consumption
  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • Ventilation
  • Ventilatory acclimization


Dive into the research topics of 'Propranolol blocks metabolic rate increase but not ventilatory acclimatization to 4300 m'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this