Background: [corrected] C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), secreted by the endothelium and the heart, is structurally related to atrial and brain natriuretic peptides, but its clinical significance in chronic heart failure (CHF) is controversial.
Aim: To investigate the role of CNP in CHF, plasma CNP levels were determined in a prospective series of 133 patients with CHF (age 64 +/- 1 years, left ventricular ejection fraction (EF), 31.5 +/- 0.7%, mean +/-S.E.M.) and in 21 age-matched healthy subjects.
Methods and results: CNP was measured by a radioimmunoassay (sensitivity: 0.41+/-0.009 pg/tube) after a preliminary solid-phase extraction. Plasma level of CNP in healthy subjects was 2.7 +/- 0.2 pg/ml and significantly increased in CHF, as a function of clinical severity: 4.9 +/- 0.7 pg/ml in NYHA class I; 7.0 +/- 0.4 pg/ml in class II (p < 0.001 vs. controls); 9.6 +/- 0.7 pg/ml in class III (p < 0.001 vs. controls and class I and II), and 11.8 +/- 2.0 pg/ml in class IV (p < 0.001 vs. controls, class I and II; Fisher's test after ANOVA). A significant relation was also found between CNP plasma levels and EF (R = 0.40, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Plasma CNP elevation is related to clinical and functional disease severity. These findings suggest a pathophysiological role for this peptide that, for its vasorelaxing activity, could influence the endothelial vasomotor response in CHF.