1. To examine whether posture-induced changes in central volume affect brain natriuretic peptide secretion, plasma levels of human brain natriuretic peptide-32-like immunoreactivity (hBNP-32-li) were measured by radioimmunoassay in 11 healthy subjects and 20 patients with essential hypertension after 15 min supine, 15 min sitting and 15 min with the legs raised at 60°, together with plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentration, plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone concentration.

2. In the supine position, the plasma hBNP-32-li level was 1.57 + 0.10 fmol/ml in healthy subjects and significantly higher in hypertensive patients (2.39 +0.13 fmol/ml, P <0.001). In both groups, plasma hBNP-32-li level significantly (P <0.001) decreased when sitting (normotensive, 1.22 +0.08 fmol/ml; hypertensive, 1.85 +0.15 fmol/ml, P <0.001 versus normotensive) and increased again after leg raising (normotensive, 2.13+0.12 fmol/ml; P <0.002 versus resting; hypertensive, 2.84 + 0.16 fmol/min, P <0.001 versus resting, P <0.025 versus normotensive).

3. The plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentration showed similar behaviour to the plasma hBNP-32-li, whereas plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone concentration increased during sitting and decreased during leg raising in both healthy subjects and hypertensive patients, who had significantly higher plasma aldosterone levels when supine and sitting.

4. The plasma hBNP-32-li level, measured in all postural positions, was directly correlated with plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentration (normotensive: r = 0.55, P <0.001; hypertensive: r = 0.69, P <0.001) and inversely correlated with plasma renin activity (r = −0.56, P <0.001 and r = −0.58, P <0.001).

5. We have shown that two physiological procedures, assumption of the sitting position and raising the legs to 60°, significantly affect the plasma hBNP-32-li level in healthy subjects. The response of the plasma hBNP-32-li level to postural changes is maintained in patients with essential hypertension, who have increased plasma levels of this hormone. The relevance of the observed modifications in the plasma hBNP-32-li level to the homoeostatic response to posture remains to be established.

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