Plasma measurement of cardiac natriuretic peptides constitutes promising markers of congenital heart disease. However, concentrations change rapidly and dramatically during the first days after delivery even in healthy neonates, which complicates clinical interpretation. It is unknown whether these changes in plasma concentrations are explained by corresponding changes in the cardiac gene expression. We quantified the chamber-specific mRNA levels of ANP (A-type natriuretic peptide) and BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) and plasma pro-ANP and BNP-32 concentrations in healthy piglets during the first 72 hours of life (from 2 litters, n = 44). Chamber-specific ANP and BNP mRNA levels reflected hemodynamic neonate changes at birth but did not correlate with circulating natriuretic peptide concentrations. However, plasma pro-ANP and creatinine concentrations were closely correlated (P < .0001; r = 0.73). Plasma pro-ANP levels were highest on the day of delivery (5580 pmol/L [4320-6786] decreasing to 2484 pmol/L [1602-2898] after 72 hours, P < .0001). During the 72 hours, gel chromatography suggested that the translational products in circulation and in atrial tissue were immature, ie, unprocessed pro-ANP. In contrast to pro-ANP, BNP-32 plasma concentrations were low at delivery and peaked after 48 hours (12 [10.5-20.6] vs. 88.8 [71.7-101.4] pmol/L, P < .0001). To conclude, ANP and BNP gene expression differs considerably between cardiac chambers in the first 72 hours of life in healthy piglets, resembling the transition from fetal to neonate circulation. However, the cardiac gene expression does not explain plasma concentrations.
Endocrinology, 2013, Vol 154, Issue 5, p. 1864-1872