In the last three decades many members of the natriuretic peptide family was isolated. The function and physiological role of these peptides are pleiotropic. All natriuretic peptides are synthesized from polypeptide precursors. Together with the sympathetic nervous system and other hormones they play key roles, like an endogenous system in the regulation of the body fluid homeostasis and blood pressure. Changes in this balance lead to dysfunction in the endothel and left ventricle, which can cause severe complications. In many cardiovascular diseases natriuretic peptides serve not only as marker for diagnosis and prognosis but they have therapeutic importance. In the last years the potential use of the elevated BNP levels for diagnosis of pre-eclampsia was examined. In our review we discuss the current understanding of molecular biology, biochemistry and clinical relevance of natriuretic peptides.
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