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MW Smith, EA Espiner, TG Yandle, CJ Charles and AM Richards

Metabolism of natriuretic peptides is regulated by two degradative pathways: uptake by the clearance receptor (natriuretic peptide receptor C--NPR-C) and hydrolysis by neutral endopeptidase (NEP). Affinity studies favour a dominant role of NPR-C in hormone degradation in several species but do not account for the efficacy of NEP inhibitors in vivo, nor the uniquely prolonged half life (t((1/2))) of human brain natriuretic peptide (hBNP). Postulating that (1) delayed metabolism of hBNP reflects resistance to NEP and (2) interactions between NPR-C and NEP increase enzyme activity, we have used purified ovine and human NEP, plus ovine lung plasma membranes to study the relative importance of receptor and enzyme pathways. We have also related the findings to hormone metabolism in vivo. Binding affinities of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), hBNP and ovine BNP (oBNP) to oNPR-C were similar (K(d)=8-16 pM). In contrast, unlike ANP and oBNP, hBNP was not significantly degraded by purified oNEP or plasma membranes. Despite similar (and high) affinity of oNPR-C for oBNP and hBNP, the t((1/2)) of hBNP (12.7 min) was more than fourfold that of oBNP (2.6 min). Although we found no evidence for receptor-enzyme interaction, our results show that the delayed metabolism of hBNP reflects resistance to NEP. These findings have important implications for future treatment strategies in human disease.

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RE Kramer, TV Robinson, EG Schneider and TG Smith

Disturbances in acid-base balance in vivo are associated with changes in plasma aldosterone concentration, and in vitro changes in extracellular pH (pH(o)) influence the secretion of aldosterone by adrenocortical tissue or glomerulosa cells. There is considerable disparity, however, as to the direction of the effect. Furthermore, the mechanisms by which pH(o) independently affects aldosterone secretion or interacts with other secretagogues are not defined. Thus, bovine glomerulosa cells maintained in primary monolayer culture were used to examine the direct effects of pH(o) on cytosolic free calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](i))( )and aldosterone secretion under basal and angiotensin II (AngII)-stimulated conditions. pH(o) was varied from 7.0 to 7.8 (corresponding inversely to changes in extracellular H(+) concentration from 16 nM to 100 nM). Whereas an elevation of pH(o) from 7.4 to 7.8 had no consistent effect, reductions of pH(o) from 7.4 to 7.2 or 7.0 caused proportionate increases in aldosterone secretion that were accompanied by increases in transmembrane Ca(2+) fluxes and [Ca(2+)](i). These effects were abolished by removal of extracellular Ca(2+). A decrease in pH(o) from 7.4 to 7.0 also enhanced AngII-stimulated aldosterone secretion. This effect was more pronounced at low concentrations of AngII and was manifested as an increase in the magnitude of the secretory response with no effect on potency. In contrast to its effect on AngII-stimulated aldosterone secretion, a reduction of pH(o) from 7.4 to 7.0 inhibited the Ca(2+) signal elicited by low concentrations (</=1x10(-10) M) of AngII, but did not affect the increase in [Ca(2+)](i) caused by a maximal concentration (1x10(-8) M) of AngII. These data suggest that pH(o) (i.e. H(+)) has multiple effects on aldosterone secretion. It independently increases aldosterone secretion through a mechanism involving Ca(2+) influx and an increase in [Ca(2+)](i). Also, it modulates the action of AngII by both decreasing the magnitude of the AngII-stimulated Ca(2+) signal and increasing the sensitivity of a more distal site to intracellular Ca(2+). The latter action appears to be a more important determinant in the effects of pH(o) on AngII-stimulated aldosterone secretion.