Apelin: a new plasma marker of cardiopulmonary disease

Regul Pept. 2006 Jan 15;133(1-3):134-8. doi: 10.1016/j.regpep.2005.09.032. Epub 2005 Nov 2.


Objectives: Dyspnea is a major symptom of both parenchymal lung disease and chronic heart failure. Underlying cardiac dysfunction can be assessed by measurement of cardiac-derived B-type natriuretic peptide or its precursor in plasma. However, no specific endocrine marker of the lung parenchyma has so far been identified. We therefore examined whether plasma concentrations of apelin, a novel inotropic hormone, is affected in patients with chronic parenchymal lung disease without cardiac dysfunction.

Methods and results: Patients with severe chronic parenchymal lung disease and normal cardiac function (n=53), idiopathic pulmonary hypertension with increased right ventricular pressure (n=10), and patients with severe left ventricular systolic dysfunction (n=22) were enrolled. Plasma apelin-36 and proBNP concentrations were measured with radioimmunoassays. While proBNP plasma concentrations were unaffected in chronic parenchymal lung disease patients compared to normal subjects, the apelin-36 concentration was reduced 3.3-fold (median 35 pmol/l (0-162 pmol/l) vs. 117 pmol/l (55-232 pmol/l), P<0.001). Moreover, the apelin-36 concentration was decreased in chronic heart failure patients (2.1-fold, P<0.01) and in patients with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension (4.0-fold, P<0.001). In contrast, the proBNP concentration was highly increased in both chronic heart failure and idiopathic pulmonary hypertension patients.

Conclusion: Plasma concentrations of apelin-36, a novel inotropic peptide, are decreased in patients with chronic parenchymal lung disease and preserved cardiac function. Combined measurement of apelin-36 and proBNP may be a new diagnostic approach in distinguishing pulmonary from cardiovascular causes of dyspnea.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Apelin
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / blood*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Heart Disease / blood
  • Pulmonary Heart Disease / diagnosis*


  • APLN protein, human
  • Apelin
  • Biomarkers
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins