C-type natriuretic peptide expression and pulmonary vasodilation in hypoxia-adapted rats

Am J Physiol. 1998 Oct;275(4):L645-52. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.1998.275.4.L645.


Atrial and brain natriuretic peptides (ANP and BNP, respectively) are potent pulmonary vasodilators that are upregulated in hypoxia-adapted rats and may protect against hypoxic pulmonary hypertension. To test the hypothesis that C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) also modulates pulmonary vascular responses to hypoxia, we compared the vasodilator effect of CNP with that of ANP on pulmonary arterial rings, thoracic aortic rings, and isolated perfused lungs obtained from normoxic and hypoxia-adapted rats. We also measured CNP and ANP levels in heart, lung, brain, and plasma in normoxic and hypoxia-adapted rats. Steady-state CNP mRNA levels were quantified in the same organs by relative RT-PCR. CNP was a less potent vasodilator than ANP in preconstricted thoracic aortic and pulmonary arterial rings and in isolated lungs from normoxic and hypoxia-adapted rats. Chronic hypoxia increased plasma CNP (15 +/- 2 vs. 6 +/- 1 pg/ml; P < 0.05) and decreased CNP in the right atrium (35 +/- 14 vs. 65 +/- 17 pg/mg protein; P < 0.05) and in the lung (3 +/- 1 vs. 14 +/- 3 pg/mg protein; P < 0.05) but had no effect on CNP in brain or right ventricle. Chronic hypoxia increased ANP levels fivefold in the right ventricle (49 +/- 5 vs. 11 +/- 2 pg/mg protein; P < 0.05) but had no effect on ANP in lung or brain. There was a trend toward decreased ANP levels in the right atrium (2,009 +/- 323 vs. 2,934 +/- 397 pg/mg protein; P = not significant). No differences in CNP transcript levels were observed between the two groups of rats except that the right atrial CNP mRNA levels were lower in hypoxia-adapted rats. We conclude that CNP is a less potent pulmonary vasodilator than ANP in normoxic and hypoxia-adapted rats and that hypoxia raises circulating CNP levels without increasing cardiopulmonary CNP expression. These findings suggest that CNP may be less important than ANP or BNP in protecting against hypoxic pulmonary hypertension in rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta, Thoracic / drug effects
  • Aorta, Thoracic / physiology
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / genetics
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / pharmacology
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / physiology
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weight
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type / genetics*
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type / pharmacology*
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type / physiology
  • Organ Size
  • Pulmonary Artery / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Circulation / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reference Values
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Vasodilation / physiology*
  • Ventricular Function, Right


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor