In less than three years since the rapid and potent natriuretic response to intravenous injection of atrial myocardial extract in rats was reported the factor responsible for the diuretic, natriuretic, and vasodilating activity of the atrial homogenates was isolated, its chemical structure elucidated, and its total synthesis achieved. Also the cDNA and the gene encoding for the atrial natriuretic factor in mice, rats, and man have been cloned and the chromosomal site identified. The major effects of this hormone are vasodilatation, prevention and inhibition of the contraction induced by noradrenaline and angiotensin II, diuresis, and natriuresis associated in most instances with a pronounced increase in glomerular filtration rate and filtration fraction, inhibition of aldosterone secretion, and considerable stimulation of particulate guanylate cyclase activity. High density specific binding sites have been demonstrated in the zona glomerulosa of the adrenal cortex, in the renal glomeruli, and in the collecting ducts, and in the brain areas involved in the regulation of blood pressure and of sodium and water (AV3V region, subfornical organ, nucleus tractus solitarius, area postrema).
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