The present experiments examine the hypothesis that changes in receptor affinity and occupation mediate maturational changes in norepinephrine sensitivity in small cerebral arteries. In second-order (2B) and fourth-order (4B) branch middle cerebral artery segments from newborn and adult sheep, we first found that a stretch ratio based on artery diameter better estimated optimal prestretch than did passive tension. Next, we determined norepinephrine dose-response relations before and after prazosin, yohimbine, and benextramine. Prazosin competitively blocked contractions to norepinephrine, but yohimbine had no effect, indicating that alpha 1-adrenoceptors mediated contraction. Norepinephrine sensitivity [determined from the -log of the half-maximal effective dose (pD2)], maximal response, and binding affinity all decreased with age in 4B but not 2B segments. Receptor occupancy at the pD2 increased with age only in 2B segments. In conclusion, maturation of ovine middle cerebral arteries involves branch-specific changes in affinity and receptor occupation of the alpha 1-adrenoceptors that mediate contractile responses to norepinephrine. Age-related changes in receptor density and/or intrinsic efficacy probably are involved also.
- Copyright © 1994 the American Physiological Society