Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether atrial and brain natriuretic peptides (ANP and BNP, respectively) represent autocrine/paracrine factors and are accumulated in pericardial fluid.
Background: ANP and BNP, systemic hormones produced by the heart, have elevated circulating levels in patients with heart failure. Recent evidence suggests that the heart itself is one of the target organs for these peptides.
Methods: With an immunoreactive radiometric assay, we measured the concentrations of these peptides in plasma and pericardial fluid simultaneously in 28 patients during coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
Results: The pericardial levels of BNP were markedly elevated in patients with impaired left ventricular function. We investigated the correlation of ANP and BNP levels in plasma or pericardial fluid with left ventricular hemodynamic variables. None of the hemodynamic variables correlated with ANP levels in plasma or pericardial fluid. Both plasma and pericardial fluid levels of BNP were significantly related to left ventricular end-diastolic and systolic volume indexes (LVEDVI and LVESVI, respectively). In addition, BNP pericardial fluid levels had closer relations with LVEDVI (r = 0.679, p < 0.0001) and LVESVI (r = 0.686, p < 0.0001) than did BNP plasma levels (LVEDVI: r = 0.567, p = 0.0017; LVESVI: r = 0.607, p = 0.0010). BNP levels in pericardial fluid but not in plasma correlated with left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (r = 0.495, p = 0.0074).
Conclusions: BNP levels in pericardial fluid served as more sensitive and accurate indicators of left ventricular dysfunction than did BNP levels in plasma. Thus, BNP may be secreted from the heart into the pericardial space in response to left ventricular dysfunction, and it may have a pathophysiologic role in heart failure as an autocrine/paracrine factor.