April 30, 2017
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Mechanism Of Action

Epinephrine acts on both alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors.


Through its action on alpha-adrenergic receptors, epinephrine lessens the vasodilation and increased vascular permeability that occurs during anaphylaxis, which can lead to loss of intravascular fluid volume and hypotension.

Through its action on beta-adrenergic receptors, epinephrine causes bronchial smooth muscle relaxation and helps alleviate bronchospasm, wheezing and dyspnea that may occur during anaphylaxis.

Epinephrine also alleviates pruritus, urticaria, and angioedema and may relieve gastrointestinal and genitourinary symptoms associated with anaphylaxis because of its relaxer effects on the smooth muscle of the stomach, intestine, uterus and urinary bladder.

Epinephrine increases glycogenolysis, reduces glucose up take by tissues, and inhibits insulin release in the pancreas, resulting in hyperglycemia and increased blood lactic acid [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Epinephrine causes mydriasis when administered intraocularly or parenterally.


When administered parenterally or intraocularly, epinephrine has a rapid onset and short duration of action.

The extent of human systemic exposure at the labeled intraocular dose has not been evaluated, however, significant systemic concentrations or plasma exposure of epinephrine are not expected when administered intraocularly.

Clinical Studies

Induction And Maintenance Of Mydriasis During Intraocular Surgery

In randomized, controlled studies, patients undergoing routine cataract extraction were evaluated after receiving intraocular irrigation with or without epinephrine diluted up to 1:1,666,666 (0.6 mcg/mL). Patients have also been evaluated after receiving bolus intracameral injections of epinephrine diluted between 1:25,000 (40 mcg/mL) and 1:400,000 (2.5 mcg/mL).

In patients with similar pupil diameters at baseline, with or without the use of preoperative mydriatic agents, mydriasis was maintained better in the eyes receiving epinephrine by an average of one to two millimeters in pupil diameter. Pupil constriction to 5mm or less occurred more often in the patients not receiving epinephrine.

Mean pulse rate and blood pressure showed no significant difference between patients receiving epinephrine and controls and there was no increased incidence of ventricular dysrhythmias in patients receiving epinephrine.

Last reviewed on RxList: 6/6/2016
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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