The natriuretic peptides (NPs) are a family of widely distributed, but evolutionarily conserved, polypeptide mediators that exert a range of effects throughout the body. There is growing realization that NP actions go far beyond volume and blood pressure homeostasis. Their pleiotropic effects include a significant role in regulating the immune system. Localization of NP receptors in various immune organs as well as in modulation of inflammation in vascular disease supports this hypothesis. Immune cells, including macrophages, dendritic cells, and T lymphocytes, express receptors for NPs. NPs are also involved in polarizing the immune response to allergens. NPs play an important role in shaping the early immune response to environmental antigens and appear to play a critical role in the interaction between cells of the innate and adaptive immune systems. The recent explosion of basic and clinical research has resulted in improved understanding of their molecular structure. This has facilitated development of chimeric forms of NPs as well as more convenient routes of administration. Thus, the NPs and their receptors could be exploited to develop therapeutics for the inflammatory and immune responses in wide range of diseases. Also discussed are several patents regarding NPs in the present review.
Keywords: Natriuretic peptides, inflammation, immune system, therapeutics
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