Plasma concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide were measured in eight patients undergoing elective cardiac catheterisation and angiography. All patients had normal resting pressures in the cardiac chambers and no clinical evidence of heart failure. Plasma atrial natriuretic peptide rose significantly from the superior vena cava into the right atrium and right ventricle. The increase into the right atrium was variable, with no increase in three subjects, but there was a consistent increase in all subjects from the superior vena cava to to the right ventricle. These findings in the right atrium are probably caused by inadequate mixing and streaming of blood from the coronary sinus containing high concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide. There was no increase in the concentration of natriuretic peptide from the pulmonary artery to the left ventricle, but the concentrations in the left ventricle were significantly higher than in the superior vena cava. These findings demonstrate that the heart secretes atrial natriuretic peptides in the absence of cardiac failure. Studies based on sampling of the right atrium will not accurately measure cardiac secretion of atrial natriuretic peptide and will therefore be likely to obscure the mechanisms responsible for regulating its secretion. The right ventricle and pulmonary artery are the best sampling sites to measure atrial natriuretic peptide release from the right atrium.
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