Activation of neuroendocrine factors plays a major role in the pathophysiology and progression of heart failure. The aim of the present study was 1) to assess the clinical correlates of elevated plasma natriuretic peptides [atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and brain natriuretic peptide (BNP)] and Big endothelin-1 in a population of 180 ambulatory patients from the Italian registry of heart failure (Italian Network on Congestive Heart Failure, IN-CHF) in 22 clinical centers, 2) to assess the within-patient variability of plasma BNP concentration, and 3) to evaluate the analytical agreement for BNP determination between a core laboratory and local sites.
ANP and BNP were measured with specific immunoradiometric methods, Big endothelin-1 with an enzyme immunoassay.
Elevated BNP was associated with severe mitral valve regurgitation (odds ratio 8.546, 95% confidence interval 1.879-38.510, p = 0.0052); high circulating concentrations of ANP and BNP were found in older patients, and in patients with higher NYHA functional class or reduced left ventricular ejection fraction. Elevated plasma concentration of Big endothelin-1 was a strong and independent predictor of atrial fibrillation (odds ratio 4.001, 95% confidence interval 1.531-10.454, p = 0.0047). Plasma concentration of BNP was reasonably stable at 3-month interval in patients with mild-to-moderate heart failure (mean between-visit difference -1.5+/-45 pg/ml, n = 96). There was a satisfactory analytical agreement between the central laboratory and sites, over a broad range of concentrations (2-1133 pg/ml, n = 283) with a slope for the best line fitted by linear regression of 1.09 (r2 = 0.96).
BNP assay may become an appropriate tool for routine clinical practice in patients with congestive heart failure.