Brain and atrial natriuretic peptides (BNP and ANP) are cardiac hormones with diuretic, natriuretic, and vasodilatory activities. Cardiomyopathic hamsters are widely used animal models of heart failure. Due to the structural divergence of BNP among species, examination on pathophysiological roles of BNP using cardiomyopathic hamsters is so far impossible. We therefore isolated hamster BNP and ANP cDNAs, and investigated synthesis and secretion of these peptides in normal and cardiomyopathic hamsters. The COOH-terminal 32-residue peptide of cloned hamster pre-proBNP with 122 amino acids, preceded by a single arginine residue, supposedly represents hamster BNP showing < 50% homology to rat BNP. Alpha-hamster ANP, 28-residue peptide, is identical to α-rat ANP. In hamsters, BNP and ANP occur mainly in the ventricle and the atrium, respectively. The 32-wk-old hypertrophic cardiomyopathic BIO14.6 strain exhibited ventricular hypertrophy. The 32-wk-old dilated cardiomyopathic BIO53.58 strain remained at the stage without apparent heart failure. In BIO14.6 and BIO53.58 strains at this age, ventricular BNP and ANP gene expressions are augmented, and the plasma BNP concentration is elevated to 136 and 108 fmol/ml, respectively, three times greater than the elevated plasma ANP concentration, which well mimics changes of the plasma BNP and ANP concentrations in human heart failure. Cardiomyopathic hamsters, therefore, are useful models to investigate the implication of BNP in human cardiovascular diseases.
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