Objectives: We sought to assess the effects of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) on systemic and regional sympathetic nervous activity (SNA) in both patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) and healthy control subjects.
Background: Although the response of SNA to atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) has been well documented, the response of SNA to BNP is largely unknown.
Methods: We assessed cardiac and whole-body SNA using the norepinephrine (NE) tracer dilution method before and after infusion of two doses of BNP (3 and 15 ng/kg body weight per min) in 11 patients with stable CHF (ejection fraction 24 +/- 2%) and 12 age-matched healthy control subjects. In addition, renal SNA and hemodynamic variables were assessed at baseline and after the higher BNP dose.
Results: Low dose BNP did not change blood pressure or whole-body NE spillover, but reduced cardiac NE spillover in both groups by 32 +/- 13 pmol/min (p < 0.05). In both groups, high dose BNP reduced pulmonary capillary pressure by 5 +/- 1 mm Hg (p < 0.001) and mean arterial pressure by 6 +/- 3 mm Hg (p < 0.05), without a concomitant increase in whole-body NE spillover; however, cardiac NE spillover returned to baseline levels. Renal NE spillover remained virtually unchanged in healthy control subjects (501 +/- 120 to 564 +/- 115 pmol/min), but was reduced in patients with CHF (976 +/- 133 to 656 +/- 127 pmol/min, p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate a sympathoinhibitory effect of BNP. Cardiac sympathetic inhibition was observed at BNP concentrations within the physiologic range, whereas high dose BNP, when arterial and filling pressures fell and reflex sympathetic stimulation was expected, systemic and cardiac SNA equated to baseline values. There was inhibition of renal SNA in patients with CHF, but not in healthy control subjects. Whether this effect is specific to BNP or related to reduced filling pressure remains to be determined.