Increased expression of renal neutral endopeptidase in severe heart failure


  • M. Knecht
  • I. Pagel
  • T. Langenickel
  • S. Philipp
  • M. Scheuermann-Freestone
  • T.E. Willnow
  • D. Bruemmer
  • K. Graf
  • R. Dietz
  • R. Willenbrock


  • Life Sciences


  • Life Sci 71 (23): 2701-2712


  • The enzyme neutral endopeptidase (NEP; EC cleaves several vasoactive peptides such as the atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP). ANP is a hormone of cardiac origin with diuretic and natriuretic actions. Despite elevated circulating levels of ANP, congestive heart failure (CHF) is characterized by progressive sodium and water retention. In order to elucidate the loss of natriuretic and diuretic properties of ANP in CHF we analyzed activity, protein concentrations, mRNA and immunostaining of NEP in kidneys of different models of severe CHF in the rat. CHF was induced by either aortocaval shunt, aortic banding or myocardial infarction in the rat. All models were defined by increased left ventricular end - diastolic pressure and decreased contractility. The diminished effectiveness of ANP was reflected by reduced cGMP/ANP ratio in animals with shunt or infarction. Renal NEP activity was increased in rats with aortocaval shunt (203 ± 7%, p < 0.001), aortic banding (184 ± 11%, p < 0.001) and infarction (149 ± 10%, p < 0.005). Western blot analysis revealed a significant increase in renal NEP protein content in two models of CHF (shunt: 214 ± 57%, p < 0.05; infarction: 310 ± 53 %, p < 0.01). The elevated protein expression was paralleled by a threefold increase in renal NEP-mRNA level in the infarction model. The increased renal NEP protein expression and activity may lead to enhanced degradation of ANP and may contribute to the decreased renal response to ANP in heart failure. Thus, the capacity to counteract sodium and water retention, would be diminished. The increased renal NEP activity may therefore be a hitherto unknown factor in the progression of CHF.