Background: Apelin, the novel endogenous ligand for the G-protein-coupled receptor APJ, has shown positive inotropic, vasodilatory and diuretic properties in animal studies. Differential expression and synthesis of apelin and APJ receptors have been observed in normal and failing human hearts, suggesting a possible role in cardiovascular homeostasis. Changes in plasma apelin concentrations in relation to heart failure have been described in small studies with conflicting results. Our aim was to evaluate plasma apelin concentrations in a large cohort of patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) across a broad spectrum of disease severity.
Method and results: Plasma apelin concentrations were measured in 202 patients with CHF secondary to left ventricular systolic dysfunction and 22 age-matched controls. Plasma apelin concentrations were significantly lower in patients with CHF, irrespective of NYHA class, ejection fraction or aetiology when compared to age-matched controls (0.85 [0.53-2.04] versus 3.76 [0.85-5.13] ng/ml, p<0.001). Apelin concentrations were correlated with peak VO(2) and right ventricular ejection fraction, but not with age, sex, body mass index, renal function or NT-proBNP concentrations.
Conclusions: Plasma apelin concentrations are decreased in patients with CHF. The Apelin-APJ signaling pathway may be a potentially important mediator in the pathophysiological processes of heart failure and may therefore have potential therapeutic implications.