B-type natriuretic peptide increases cortisol and catecholamine concentrations in healthy subjects

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 May 1;122(5):1249-1254. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00360.2016. Epub 2016 Dec 22.


B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a hormone released by the heart in response to volume load and exerts natriuretic properties. It is clinically used as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker and investigated as a pharmacological agent in the therapy of heart failure. Here we investigate the changes in pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid hormones in response to BNP administration in a randomized single-blinded crossover study conducted in ten healthy men aged 21-29 yr. Participants received in two study sessions a continuous intravenous infusion during 4 h (once placebo and once 3 pmol·kg-1·min-1 BNP) and remained in supine position throughout the study. Circulating concentrations of pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid hormones, heart rate, and blood pressure were measured at baseline and hourly afterwards. BNP prevented the physiological decrease in cortisol during the late morning hours leading to elevated serum cortisol levels (P = 0.022) and increased circulating epinephrine and norepinephrine concentrations (P = 0.018 and P = 0.036, respectively). These hormone changes were accompanied by an increase in heart rate (P = 0.019) but no differences in blood pressure. Taken together, the impact of BNP on the endocrine system extends beyond the well-known inhibition of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and includes increased adrenergic activity and cortisol concentrations. This neuroendocrine activation might impact the outcome of therapeutical BNP administrations and should be further investigated in conditions associated with increased BNP secretion.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The heart hormone B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is increased in patients with heart failure, where it is thought to have beneficial effects by reducing the preload. Here we report that intravenous administration of BNP in men leads to increases in adrenal hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Cortisol and catecholamine levels are independent predictors of increased cardiovascular mortality risk; therefore, drugs targeting the BNP system should be evaluated regarding their effects on the neuroendocrine activation accompanying heart failure.

Keywords: BNP; adrenal; adrenergic activity; catecholamine; cortisol; natriuretic peptides; neuroendocrine activation; pituitary.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / physiology
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Catecholamines / blood*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Male
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood*
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Pituitary Hormones / blood
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Catecholamines
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine