Tissue levels of atrial natriuretic polypeptide (ANP) and ANP messenger RNA (mRNA) in the atrium and ventricle were measured simultaneously in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and its substrain, SHR-stroke prone (SHRSP), and these levels were compared with those in control Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). At 27 weeks of age with established hypertension and ventricular hypertrophy, ANPmRNA levels in ventricles from SHR and SHRSP were markedly increased, and total contents of ventricular ANPmRNA in SHR and SHRSP were approximately 50% and 250%, respectively, of the corresponding atrial contents. However, levels and total contents of atrial ANPmRNA in SHR and SHRSP were similar to those of WKY, and the total content of ventricular ANPmRNA in WKY was only 6% of the content of atrial ANPmRNA. ANP concentrations in ventricles of SHR and SHRSP were increased in association with the augmentation of ANPmRNA levels. During the prehypertensive stage at 6 weeks of age, slight increases in levels and total contents of ANPmRNA and ANP in the ventricle were observed only in SHRSP. These results demonstrate that the expression of the ANP gene is markedly augmented in ventricles of SHR and SHRSP, especially of SHRSP, at the stage of established hypertension and ventricular hypertrophy, and they also suggest that these genetically hypertensive rats are one of the best animal models to investigate the biosynthesis, storage, and secretion of ventricular ANP.
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