To assess the possibility that atrial natriuretic peptide plays a role in salt and water balance during early mammalian development, we examined hearts from fetal and neonatal rates for the presence of this peptide and presumed target tissues for their ability to bind the hormone. Immunohistochemistry was used to localize and radioimmunoassay to quantify this peptide in heart. Immunoreactive artrial natriuretic peptide was visualized in the fetal heart on day 17·5 post‐conception. It was distributed throughout the atrial appendages and free wall and, in ventricle, in the trabeculae carnae and chordae tendineae. The concentrations of immunoreactive atrial natriuretic peptide in atria of rats on day 19·5 post‐conception were one‐tenth of those in the adult. Levels of this peptide in fetal ventricle were low and virtually absent from the adult tissue. Specific binding of radiolabelled atrial natriuretic peptide measured by whole organ counting occurred in several organs from 19·5‐day fetal and neonatal rats. A number of these tissues, including the kidney, ileum, adrenal, lung and liver, are targets for and/or bind the peptide in adult rats. Specific binding in these tissues was localized using autoradiography at anatomical sites similar to those in adult organs. Specific binding was also seen in fetal but not neonatal skin. In the kidney, binding was associated with immature as well as mature glomeruli. These findings support the proposition that atrial natriuretic peptide may function in the perinatal rat as it does in the adult and, in addition, may play a unique role during fetal life.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Cell Biology