BACKGROUND: In vitro and in vivo evidence suggests that atrial natriuretic peptide can enhance fluid flux from intravascular to extravascular compartments. The relevance of this to human pathophysiology remains unclear. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether a central haemodynamic change associated with increased plasma concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide produces detectable change in the capillary filtration coefficient in a peripheral microvascular bed. PATIENTS: 12 patients with programmable dual chamber permanent pacemakers. METHODS: Calf capillary filtration coefficient (using a modified plethysmographic technique) and plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentrations were measured during atrioventricular synchronous and ventricular pacing. RESULTS: Atrioventricular asynchrony was associated with higher mean (SD) concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide (231.9 (123.1) v 53.5 (38.8) pg/ml) and an increased mean (SD) calf capillary filtration coefficient (4.2 (1.1) v 3.6 (1.1) ml/min.mm Hg.100 ml x 10(-3)), but there was no correlation between the magnitude of the change in these variables in individual patients. CONCLUSIONS: The peripheral capillary filtration coefficient may change in response to altered central haemodynamics. Atrial natriuretic peptide remains one potential candidate mechanism, but other factors are also likely to be involved.
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