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Curr Opin Crit Care. 2004 Oct;10(5):336-41.

Natriuretic peptide system: physiology and clinical utility.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Klinikum der Stadt Ludwigshafen, Akademisches Lehrkrankenhaus der Universit├Ąt Mainz, Ludwigshafen, Germany.



This review discusses the physiology of natriuretic peptides as a group and brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) in more detail. It will also highlight implications for the use of the natriuretic peptides in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease.


The heart secretes two major natriuretic peptides: atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), which is synthesized in the atrial myocardium, and BNP, which is synthesized in the ventricular myocardium. Both ANP and BNP are released in response to atrial and ventricular stretch, respectively, and will cause balanced vasodilation, natriuresis, and inhibition of the sympathetic nervous system and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone axis. BNP is reported to be the biochemical marker of choice for evaluating the acute risk of patients with cardiovascular disease states ranging from heart failure to myocardial ischemia. Increased blood BNP concentrations are highly predictive of the short- and long-term risk of cardiac death across the entire spectrum of acute coronary syndromes and in patients with decompensated congestive heart failure. Synthetic recombinant human BNP, which mimics the actions of endogenous BNP, has emerged as an important new therapeutic agent in patients with acute heart failure.


Current data suggest that single and serial plasma measurement of BNP concentrations is a useful tool in the diagnosis and risk stratification of patients with heart disease. Nesiritide, the human recombinant form of BNP, is a new promising parenteral treatment in decompensated heart failure.

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