C-type natriuretic peptide-induced vasodilation is dependent on hyperpolarization in human forearm resistance vessels

Marina L.H. Honing, Paul Smits, Paul J. Morrison, John C. Burnett, Ton J. Rabelink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Animal studies have demonstrated that CNP causes endothelium-independent vasodilation, which is limited by neutral endopeptidase (NEP) activity. However, the vasodilating mechanism of CNP in humans is still unknown. Therefore, we investigated the vasodilator actions of CNP in human forearm resistance vessels before and after inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) and then prostacyclin production and after inhibition of Ca2+-dependent potassium channel activation and NEP activity. Three separate studies were performed. In each study, forearm blood flow was recorded by venous occlusion plethysmography in 8 healthy nonsmoking subjects. Brachial artery infusion of CNP (70, 140, 280, and 560 ng per 100 mL forearm volume per minute) caused significant forearm vasodilation in all studies (forearm blood flow from 3.94 to 8.50 mL per 100 mL forearm volume per minute). Inhibition of the endogenous generation of NO by L-NG-monomethyl arginine (by use of the NO-clamp technique) did not block the maximal vasodilating effects of CNP (forearm blood flow from 3.69 to 6.93). In addition, when the cyclooxygenase system was inhibited by 600 mg of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) administered orally 30 minutes before start of measurements, the rise in forearm blood flow remained intact (forearm blood flow from 3.31 to 8.27 mL per 100 mL forearm volume per minute). However, inhibition of Ca2+-dependent potassium channels with tetraethylammonium chloride (0.1 mg per 100 mL forearm volume per minute) significantly attenuated vasodilation caused by CNP (forearm blood flow from 2.28 to 3.06 mL per 100 mL forearm volume per minute), which suggests that CNP opens vascular potassium channels. Vasodilation to all doses of CNP was significantly increased when activity of NEP was blocked with thiorphan (30 nmol/min), which suggests that NEP activity limits vasodilation of CNP. CNP is a dilator of human resistance vessels that mediates its effects through hyperpolarization of the vessel wall independent of the NO and prostaglandin system. Inhibition of local NEP activity increases CNP bioavailability. This may be of relevance to cardiovascular disease, given that vascular tone is well balanced between NO and an endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor, which suggests that in pathological situations, impaired NO activity can be compensated for by enhanced endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor release to maintain vascular homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1183
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Endopeptidase
  • Hyperpolarizing factor
  • Natriuretic peptides
  • Nitric oxide
  • Tetraethylammonium chloride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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