The natriuretic peptide system in obesity-related hypertension: New pathophysiological aspects

Paolo Dessi-Fulgheri, Riccardo Sarzani, Alessandro Rappelli

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The association between obesity and hypertension is well known but the pathophysiology of weight-related changes on blood pressure is still a matter of debate. Although obesity-related hypertension is considered to be sodium- sensitive, little attention has been given to a possible pathophysiological role of Atrial Natriuretic Peptides (ANP) and their receptors (NPr) system. Since the early phase of weight loss induced by very-low-calorie diet or fasting is followed by a significant increase in diuresis and natriuresis together with an increase in circulating ANP, we focused our attention on the possible role of adipose tissue in mediating these changes. We first demonstrated that human and rat adipose tissue contain high levels of mRNA specific for both type A (NPr-A), which is biologically active, and type C (NPr-C) which is biologically inactive, receptors. We then demonstrated in the rat that fasting exerts a tissue-specific and gene-specific suppression of NPr-C gene expression in adipose tissue that appears to be accompanied by an increased biological activity of ANP. These experimental observations were confirmed in man studying gene expression of NPr-A and NPr-C in adipose tissue obtained through subcutaneous peri-umbilical needle aspiration in obese and non-obese hypertensive patients. We found that NPr-A: NPr-C mRNA ratio was significantly lower in obese hypertensive patients as compared with non-obese hypertensives. These findings suggest that overxpression of the clearance receptor in the obese may trap more molecules of circulating ANP so reducing their biological activity at renal level. More recent results were obtained in obese hypertensive patients in whom the intravenous bolus injection of ANP (0.6 mg/kg body weight) was performed before and after four days of very-low-calorie diet which induced a weight loss accompanied by a significant reduction of BP and an increase in the urinary excretion of cGMP. The infusion of ANP after low-calorie diet was followed by an increase of ANP levels similar to that observed before diet, but plasma cGMP, diuresis and natriuresis significantly increased only after caloric restriction and the effects of ANP infusion on BP were more pronounced. Taken together our studies suggest that the abundance of NPr-C in adipose tissue may play a significant role in explaining at least part of the sodium retention characteristic of obesity associated hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-299
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nephrology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998


  • Atrial natriuretic peptide
  • Clearance receptor
  • Natriuretic peptide receptors
  • Obesity associated hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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