To determine whether atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) is a circulating hormone in men, a radioimmunoassay suitable for the estimation of ANF in human plasma was developed and the nature of plasma ANF was characterized. Plasma ANF was extracted before radioimmunoassay by affinity chromatography on a column of ANF antibody-coupled agarose. When plasma ANF extract was analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, with the radioimmunoassay of the eluted gel slices for ANF, almost all of the ANF activities ran in the 3,000-mol-wt area, while three peaks of ANF were observed in human atrial tissue extract, molecular weights of which corresponded to 14,000, 6,000, and 3,000, respectively. Reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography of atrial tissue extract resolved multiple forms of ANF. In contrast, one major peak was observed in human plasma extract, and its retention time coincided with that of synthetic human alpha-atrial natriuretic polypeptide. When 500 ml of 0.9% saline was infused into six healthy subjects over 45 min, plasma levels of ANF were unequivocally elevated. The mean plasma ANF concentrations rose from the baseline (23.0 +/- 2.5 pg/ml, mean +/- SEM, n = 6) to the peak (41.8 +/- 4.9 pg/ml, mean +/- SEM) at 75 min postinfusion. No significant change in plasma ANF, on the other hand, was found in the control group. These results suggest that ANF is a circulating hormone in men and is secreted in response to isotonic volume expansion.
T Yamaji, M Ishibashi, F Takaku