One of the best ways to learn autonomic pharmacology, is to become involved in the administration of
autonomic drugs and monitoring of cardiovascular endpoints. In the past, students could participate in live
demonstrations of cardiovascular pharmacology by using mongrel dogs. The use of animals in medical research
and education was a highly valued priviledge and a serious responsibility. Those animals always received
the best in humane care. In spite of the value of this type of real life experience, problems were always
apparent during the conduct of such experiments. Catheters would become misplaced and not read correctly, the
dogs might have an unusual response to the drugs administered, electronic connections would become disconnected, etc.
Today, we have the benefit of high speed computers capable of producing a realistic simulation of
blood pressure, heart rate, peripheral resistance, and cardiac output in real time. The simulation model that drives such
a simulation is cabable of responding to the administration of autonomic drugs in much the same way that a real
animal responds. In order to get the most out of this simulated individual lab experience, you should run the
simulation program, "CardioPharm(TM)", (sorry PC's only for now, until I finish a platform independent JAVA version) and
follow the instructions below.
CardioPharm(TM) installation files can be found on the internet at LabSoft Solutions .
After installing CardioPharm(TM) you can run the program by double-clicking on its icon. When you are
looking at the CardioPharm(TM) window, standard MS-Windows buttons are used to administer various drugs and to
perform a variety of invasive procedures. In addition the following Alt-Key combinations can be
used with CardioPharm(TM):
When a drug is administered, the response can usually be divided into three phases:
Look for these phases when you simulate the administration of drugs. You inform the computer that
you wish to simulate the administration of a drug or perform a procedure by pressing a command button.
It is best to administer drugs, etc. when the trace is near the left edge of the screen
so that you can observe the entire response.
Questions are posed throughout the experimental protocol. You should answer all of the questions
and submit this form with your name and ID number when you are finished. You
may possibly see some of these questions again sometime.
We will start this laboratory session by administering some theoretically pure autonomic agents.
In reality, most drugs do not have "pure" autonomic actions. Typically, an alpha adrenergic
agonist will have some beta adrenergic effects and vice versa. A selective beta-1
adrenergic antagonist might have 100 times higher affinity for beta-1 receptors compared to
beta-2 receptors, but there is usually some residual effect at other sites. With the computer,
we can create pure alpha and beta agonists in order to learn the expected results when the
drug induced changes in cardiovasular parameters occur from the action of a drug on only
one site of action followed by the reflex response and then by the degradation of the administered
In time zone 1, the most immediate response of an
agonist is to
peripheral resistance (see + symbols) causing an increase in mean arterial pressure and a
decrease in cardiac output (see - symbols).
One consequence of this increase in arterial
pressure is increased stretching of the carotid sinus (click for
image). Stretch of the baroreceptors in the carotid sinus increases the firing rate of
the depressor nerve
causing stimulation of alpha-2 receptors in the cardiovascular control
center of the CNS. This causes increase parasympathetic outflow and decreased sympathetic
Last updated 8/27/02
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