Aqueous flow in humans after adrenalectomy

T. L. Maus, W. F. Young, R. F. Brubaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose. This study was performed to determine if the circadian rhythm of aqueous humor formation and the aqueous humor suppressing effect of β- adrenergic antagonists can occur in the absence of adrenally derived epinephrine. Methods. Twenty-one human subjects who had undergone bilateral adrenalectomy were studied during a 28-hour period. The study was divided into four time periods as follows: morning 1 (8 AM to noon), afternoon (noon to 4 PM), night (midnight to 6 AM), and morning 2 (8 AM to noon). At 6:45 AM before the morning 2 measurements, one drop of 0.5% timolol was applied to one eye and one drop of placebo (artificial tears) was applied to the other eye. Topical fluorescein and a scanning fluorophotometer were used to measure the rate of aqueous humor flow. Twenty normal controls were studied in a similar fashion but did not undergo the morning 2 measurement. Results. In the subjects lacking adrenals, the daytime rates of aqueous flow were 3.17 ± 0.78 μl/min (mean ± SD) and 3.16 ± 0.67 μl/min for the morning 1 and afternoon periods, respectively. The rates in daytime periods were not significantly different from each other (P = 0.699). The rate of aqueous flow for the night period was 1.37 ± 0.37 μl/min, a 57% reduction from both morning 1 and afternoon periods (P < 0.001). The morning, afternoon, and night rates of flow in normal controls were not significantly different from the rates in subjects lacking adrenals. For the morning 2 period, the aqueous flow was 2.74 ± 0.54 μl/min for the placebo-treated eye and 1.77 ± 0.38 μl/min for the timolol-treated eye. The rate of aqueous flow was reduced (35%) in the timolol-treated eye when compared to the fellow placebo-treated eye (P < 0.001). The timolol-treated eye also showed a 26% reduction in intraocular pressure when compared to the fellow placebo-treated eye (P < 0.001). Conclusion. The study demonstrates that both the circadian rhythm of aqueous flow and the daytime response to timolol persist in the absence of the adrenal glands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3325-3331
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1994


  • adrenal gland
  • adrenalectomy
  • aqueous humor
  • circadian rhythm
  • human eye

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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