The excretion and metabolism of labeled epinephrine and norepinephrine by the isolated, perfused rat kidney were studied. The excretion of both catecholamines significantly exceeded the amount filtered, thus providing direct evidence of net tubular secretion. Renal clearance of epinephrine was significantly greater than that of norepinephrine. Tubular secretion was a linear function of the concentration of unbound catecholamine in the medium with no demonstrable tubular maximum at the concentrations studied. The isolated kidney removed catecholamines from the medium by metabolism as well as excretion in the urine. O-Methylation was the major metabolic route and O-methylated metabolites were rapidly excreted and concentrated in urine. Preferential excretion and metabolism of epinephrine were confirmed in double-label experiments in which [14C]epinephrine and [3H]norepinephrine were perfused together. The ratio of 14C:3H in urine exceeded that in perfusion medium for total radioactivity as well as for catecholamines and O-methylated amines. The present study thus provides direct evidence for net tubular secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine with a direct relationship between secretion and medium concentration; significant renal metabolism of both epinephrine and norepinephrine with O-methylation as the major metabolic route; and preferential excretion and metabolism of epinephrine.
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