Adrenomedullin is a novel hypotensive peptide originally isolated from human pheochromocytoma. Accumulating evidence suggests the possible involvement of adrenomedullin in the physiology of the pulmonary circulation and the pathophysiology of hypoxaemia. The aim of the present study was to investigate the pathophysiological significance of adrenomedullin in hypoxaemia caused by congenital cyanotic heart disease. Subjects were 16 patients with congenital cyanotic heart disease aged 0.8–10 years (Group C) and 12 age-matched control subjects (patients with coronary artery dilatation after Kawasaki disease; Group N). Plasma adrenomedullin concentrations were measured, using radioimmunoassay, in femoral venous, pulmonary arterial and pulmonary venous blood obtained during cardiac catheterization. Plasma adrenomedullin concentrations in Group C were significantly (3-fold) higher than those in Group N at all sampling sites. In Group C, plasma adrenomedullin concentrations in pulmonary venous blood were significantly lower than those in pulmonary arterial blood. Pulmonary uptake of adrenomedullin in Group C was significantly greater than that in Group N. Patients with congenital cyanotic heart disease showed elevated plasma adrenomedullin concentrations and an increased uptake of adrenomedullin in the pulmonary circulation, which may act to dilate pulmonary vessels and increase pulmonary blood flow to alleviate hypoxaemia. Intrinsically increased adrenomedullin levels may function as a compensatory mechanism for hypoxaemia in congenital cyanotic heart disease.

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