Background: The natriuretic peptide family consists of four molecules that share significant amino acid sequence homologic characteristics and a looped motif. Atrial natriuretic peptide and brain natriuretic peptide are similar in their ability to promote natriuresis and diuresis, inhibit the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone axis, and act as vasodilators. Understanding of the actions of C-type natriuretic peptide and dendroaspis natriuretic peptide is incomplete, but these two new family members also act as vasodilators. Because of the rapid evolution of information about this peptide family, we reviewed the state of the art with respect to risk stratification and therapeutic ability.
Methods: English-language papers were identified by a MEDLINE database search covering 1966 through 1997 and supplemented with bibliographic references and texts.
Conclusions: The natriuretic peptides are counterregulatory hormones with prognostically important levels. They are similarly upregulated in heart failure and counteract neurohormones that induce vasoconstriction and fluid retention. BNP may be the superior prognosticator for risk stratification after myocardial infarction and is independent of left ventricular ejection fraction. Lastly, experimental trials suggest that administration of exogenous natriuretic peptides or inhibitors of their catabolism to patients with ischemic heart disease may be clinically beneficial.