In the ventricles of adult mammalian hearts, production of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) is negligible, restricted to the impulse-conducting cells, the papillary muscles, and a minority of subendocardial myocytes. ANP expression is reinduced in the ventricles of pressure-overloaded and failing hearts and is frequently used as a marker for myocyte hypertrophy. Using an immunohistochemical approach, we have characterized the size distribution of ANP-containing myocytes in the left ventricle of the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) before and after chronic antihypertensive therapy and compared the results to age-matched normotensive Wistar rats (WR). Our findings show that in SHR the frequency of cells presenting ANP granularity is positively correlated with myocyte size (r=0.746, P<0.02). The highest proportion of ANP-positive myocytes (55-57%) was measured among cells of diameters 30-34 μm. In any corresponding cell size, the proportion of ANP-presenting myocytes was five- to tenfold higher in SHR than in the normotensive WR. We studied the effects of the antihypertensive drugs captopril, hydralazine, and nifedipine and found that, regardless of their effect on blood pressure or hypertrophy, all three eliminated ANP immunoproducts from the majority of the left ventricular myocytes and reduced the level of ANP mRNA, captopril being the most effective. The positive correlation between myocyte size and ANP expression was not maintained in the hearts of drug-treated SHR. Myocytes on the border of fibrotic areas or in regions of ANP presentation within the normal heart resisted the suppressive effect of the antihypertensive therapy, indicating that blood pressure or hypertrophy are not the sole correlates for ANP expression.
- Atrial natriuretic peptide
- Northern blot analysis
- Rat (Wistar)
- Spontaneously hypertensive rats