Natriuretic peptides and their therapeutic potential

Heart Dis. 1999 Nov-Dec;1(5):305-28.


Natriuretic peptides are a group of naturally occurring substances that act in the body to oppose the activity of the renin-angiotensin system. There are three major natriuretic peptides: atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), which is synthesized in the atria; brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), which is synthesized in the ventricles; and C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), which is synthesized in the brain. Both ANP and BNP are released in response to atrial and ventricular stretch, respectively, and will cause vasorelaxation, inhibition of aldosterone secretion in the adrenal cortex, and inhibition of renin secretion in the kidney. Both ANP and BNP will cause natriuresis and a reduction in intravascular volume, effects amplified by antagonism of antidiuretic hormone (ADH). The physiologic effects of CNP are different from those of ANP and BNP. CNP has a hypotensive effect, but no significant diuretic or natriuretic actions. Three natriuretic peptide receptors (NPRs) have been described that have different binding capacities for ANP, BNP, and CNP. Removal of the natriuretic peptides from the circulation is affected mainly by binding to clearance receptors and enzymatic degradation in the circulation. Increased blood levels of natriuretic peptides have been found in certain disease states, suggesting a role in the pathophysiology of those diseases, including congestive heart failure (CHF), systemic hypertension, and acute myocardial infarction. The natriuretic peptides also serve as disease markers and indicators of prognosis in various cardiovascular conditions. The natriuretic peptides have been used in the treatment of disease, with the most experience with intravenous BNP in the treatment of CHF. Another pharmacologic approach being used is the inhibition of natriuretic peptide metabolism by neutral endopeptidase (NEP) inhibitor drugs. The NEP inhibitors are currently being investigated as treatments for CHF and systemic hypertension.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / physiology
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Heart Failure / blood
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Natriuresis / physiology
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / physiology
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / therapeutic use*
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type / physiology
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type / therapeutic use*


  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor