Natriuretic peptides (NPs) were first described as cardiac biomarkers more than two decades ago. Since that time, numerous studies have confirmed NPs' diagnostic and prognostic utilities as biomarkers of myocardial function. However, we must now admit that despite the NPs' relatively long period of use in clinical practice, our understanding of the biochemistry and the variety of circulating forms of NPs, as well as of their potential as biomarkers, remains far from being complete and comprehensive. The highly complex nature and wide diversity of circulating forms of NPs make their accurate measurements in plasma far more complex than initially believed. A highly simplistic view of the NPs' use is that elevated values of NPs indicate the severity of heart failure and thus reflect the prognosis. However, as shown by a variety of studies, deep understanding of how the NP system works will be required for correct interpretation of test results in routine practice of cardiovascular disease. In this review, we summarize the recent advances in understanding of the complexity of the NP system and discuss related analytical issues, which open new horizons, as well as challenges for clinical diagnostics.
Keywords: ANP; BNP; NT-proBNP; glycosylation; immunoassay; natriuretic peptide; proBNP; processing.