Using an antiserum against the ring structure of rat brain natriuretic peptide (rat BNP), we have established a specific radioimmunoassay (RIA) for rat BNP and elucidated its tissue distribution and molecular form. Rat BNP-like immunoreactivity (-LI) was detected in the highest amount in cardiac extracts (574.0 ± 138.8 pmol/g in the atrium and 4.3 ± 1.1 pmol/g in the ventricle). The secretory rate of rat BNP-LI from the perfused whole heart was.50.0 ± 1.9 fmol/min, about 60% of which was maintained even after atrial removal. We also detected rat BNP-LI throughout the spinal cord (134-175 fmol/g), although no detectable amount was present (less than 100 fmol/g) in other tissues including the brain. High performance-gel permeation chromatography and reverse phase-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with the RIA revealed that rat BNP with 45 amino acids is a major storage form as well as a secretory form of rat BNP-LI in the heart. The major component in the spinal cord was also rat BNP. These findings indicate that the tissue distribution and the processing pattern of rat BNP are different from those of atrial natriuretic peptide and porcine BNP, thereby suggesting the presence of complicated diversity of the natriuretic peptide system.
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