Natriuretic peptides are endogenous antagonists of vasoconstrictor and salt- and water-retaining systems in the body's defence against blood pressure elevation and plasma volume expansion, through direct vasodilator, diuretic and natriuretic properties. In addition, natriuretic peptides may play a role in the modulation of the molecular mechanisms involved in metabolic regulation and cardiovascular remodelling. The metabolic syndrome is characterized by visceral obesity, hyperlipidaemia, vascular inflammation and hypertension, which are linked by peripheral insulin resistance. Increased visceral adiposity may contribute to the reduction in the circulating levels of natriuretic peptides. The dysregulation of neurohormonal systems, including the renin–angiotensin and the natriuretic peptide systems, may in turn contribute to the development of insulin resistance in dysmetabolic patients. In obese subjects with the metabolic syndrome, reduced levels of natriuretic peptides may be involved in the development of hypertension, vascular inflammation and cardio vascular remodelling, and this may predispose to the development of cardiovascular disease. The present review summarizes the regulation and function of the natriuretic peptide system in obese patients with the metabolic syndrome and the involvement of altered bioactive levels of natriuretic peptides in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease in patients with metabolic abnormalities.

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