Adrenomedullin (AM), a peptide isolated from an extract of human pheochromocytoma, comprises 52 amino acids with an intramolecular disulfide bond and amidation at the carboxy-terminus. AM is present in various tissues and organs in rodents and humans, including the heart. The peptide concentration increases with cardiac hypertrophy, acute myocardial infarction, and overt heart failure in the plasma and the myocardium. The principal function of AM in the cardiovascular system is the regulation of the vascular tone by vasodilation and natriuresis via cyclic adenosine monophosphate-dependent or -independent mechanism. In addition, AM may possess unique properties that inhibit aldosterone secretion, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and stimulation of angiogenesis, resulting in the protection of the structure and function of the heart. The AM receptor comprises a complex between calcitonin receptor-like receptor (CLR) and receptor activity-modifying protein (RAMP) 2 or 3, and the AM-CLR/RAMP2 system is essential for heart development during embryogenesis. Small-scale clinical trials have proven the efficacy and safety of recombinant AM peptide therapy for heart failure. Gene delivery and a modified AM peptide that prolongs the half-life of the native peptide could be an innovative method to improve the efficacy and benefit of AM in clinical settings. In this review, we focus on the pathophysiological roles of AM and its receptor system in the heart and describe the advances in AM and proAM-derived peptides as diagnostic biomarkers as well as the therapeutic application of AM and modified AM for cardioprotection.
Keywords: Contractility; Embryogenesis; Heart failure; Hypertrophy; Remodeling.
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