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CJ Charles, MT Rademaker, AM Richards, and MG Nicholls

Adrenomedullin (ADM) is a novel peptide with actions which include reduction of arterial pressure and interaction with a number of hormone systems. In order to assess possible interactions with the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, we have examined neurohumoral responses to hypotensive haemorrhage (15 ml/kg over 15 min) with or without co-infusions of ADM (5.5 pmol/kg per min) in six non-pregnant and eight pregnant conscious sheep. Haemorrhage induced a greater decrease in arterial pressure, but a blunted increase in heart rate in pregnant sheep. There was no significant effect of ADM on haemodynamic responses to haemorrhage in either group. In non-pregnant sheep, haemorrhage-induced activation of both RAS and HPA was significantly augmented by ADM, as indicated by greater increases in plasma renin activity (P<0.01), angiotensin II (P<0.05) and arginine vasopressin (P<0.01). In contrast, ADM did not augment these responses to haemorrhage in pregnant sheep. Rather, plasma concentrations of aldosterone (P=0.039) and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (P=0.012) were decreased by ADM. In conclusion, ADM-induced augmentation of the RAS and HPA responses to hypotensive haemorrhage is abolished in the pregnant state.

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CJ Charles, MG Nicholls, MT Rademaker, and AM Richards

The physiological role of adrenomedullin (ADM) in volume and pressure homeostasis remains unclear. Accordingly, we assessed possible modulatory actions of ADM infusions on the neurohumoral response to acute volume loading with dextran in normal conscious sheep. Dextran (15 ml/kg), given with concurrent ADM (5.5 pmol/kg per min--raising plasma ADM from below detection to approximately 10 pmol/l) or vehicle control infusions, induced matched significant (P<0.001 by ANOVA) falls in hematocrit (27-30%) during both ADM and control and similar increases in right atrial pressure (approximately 10 mmHg). Compared with control, both systemic (P=0.033) and pulmonary (P=0.005) arterial pressure and peripheral resistance (P=0.004) were reduced during ADM but were raised post-infusion. The dextran-induced increase in cardiac output was augmented by ADM (P=0.048). Dextran-induced increases in plasma atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP; P=0.008), brain natriuretic peptide (BNP; P=NS) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP; P=0.003) were augmented post-ADM infusions. The dextran-induced fall in plasma renin activity (PRA) was attenuated by ADM (P=0.039) whereas plasma aldosterone levels were unaltered. ADM augmented the increase in urinary volume during the second 2-h clearance period post-dextran. Our data indicate that ADM modifies the hemodynamic and hormonal response to an acute volume challenge, enhances natriuretic peptide secretion and reduces systemic vascular resistance. These results provide further evidence that ADM plays a physiological role in volume and pressure homeostasis.

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JJ Evans, AH Youssef, TG Yandle, LK Lewis, and MG Nicholls

Regulation of cardiovascular system activity involves complex interactions amongst numerous factors. Three of these vasoactive factors are adrenomedullin, C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) and endothelin-1 (ET-1), each of which is claimed to have important local effects. To investigate paracrine/autocrine regulation of the secretion of these peptides we used a cell immunoblot method. We postulated that basal release of adrenomedullin and CNP by endothelial cells is modulated by ET-1. Dispersed human aortic endothelial cells were attached to a protein binding membrane and incubated for 1 or 4 h with control medium or with ET-1, endothelin receptor antagonists or antibody to ET-1, and then submitted to immunohistochemical staining. Peptides (adrenomedullin, CNP and ET-1) within individual cells were stained, as was peptide secreted and adjacent to the cell. It was demonstrated that adrenomedullin, CNP and ET-1 can be contained within the same cell. In addition, we observed that individual endothelial cells can secrete all three peptides. The endothelin ET-A/ET-B receptor antagonist, bosentan, the ET-B receptor antagonist, BQ-788, and anti-ET-1 serum decreased the percentage of endothelial cells that secreted adrenomedullin and CNP relative to control. Conversely, the addition of ET-1 induced an increase in the number of endothelial cells that secreted adrenomedullin and CNP. These results provide strong evidence that endogenous ET-1, from human vascular endothelial cells, acts in a paracrine/autocrine manner to modulate the basal release of adrenomedullin and CNP. Our observations of this modulation suggest that vascular endothelial cells of humans constitute an important component of a self-responsive vasoregulatory system.