Guanylin peptide family: history, interactions with ANP, and new pharmacological perspectives

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Aug;89(8):575-85. doi: 10.1139/y11-050. Epub 2011 Aug 4.


The guanylin family of peptides has 3 subclasses of peptides containing either 3 intramolecular disulfide bonds found in bacterial heat-stable enterotoxins (ST), or 2 disulfides observed in guanylin and uroguanylin, or a single disulfide exemplified by lymphoguanylin. These peptides bind to and activate cell-surface receptors that have intrinsic guanylate cyclase (GC) activity. These hormones are synthesized in the intestine and released both luminally and into the circulation, and are also produced within the kidney. Stimulation of renal target cells by guanylin peptides in vivo or ex vivo elicits a long-lived diuresis, natriuresis, and kaliuresis by both cGMP-dependent and independent mechanisms. Uroguanylin may act as a hormone in a novel endocrine axis linking the digestive system and kidney as well as a paracrine system intrarenally to increase sodium excretion in the postprandial period. This highly integrated and redundant mechanism allows the organism to maintain sodium balance by eliminating excess sodium in the urine. In addition, small concentrations of the atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) can synergize with low concentrations of both guanylin or uroguanylin, which do not induce natriuresis per se, to promote significant natriuresis. Interestingly, the activation of the particulate guanylate cyclase receptors by natriuretic peptides can promote relaxation of animal and human penile erectile tissue and increase intracavernosal pressure to induce penile erection. These peptides can be prototypes for new drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, especially in patients with endothelial and nitrergic dysfunction, such as in diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Guanylate Cyclase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Natriuretic Peptides / metabolism*
  • Natriuretic Peptides / pharmacology*


  • Gastrointestinal Hormones
  • Natriuretic Peptides
  • guanylin
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor
  • Guanylate Cyclase