Sexual dimorphisms are recognized in cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, stroke, thrombosis and vasculitis. B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a guanylyl cyclase A (GC-A) agonist. The anti-hypertensive, vasodilatory, anti-fibrotic, and anti-hypertrophic properties of BNP are well established in male animal models. Although circulating BNP levels are higher in women, when compared to age-matched men, the cardiovascular protective propensity of BNP in females is poorly understood. We assessed the cardiovascular consequences of BNP deletion in genetically null (Nppb-/-) female rat lines. Throughout the study, blood pressure (BP) remained uninfluenced by genotype, and cardiorenal consequences of BNP knock out remained minor. Unexpectedly, approximately 60% of Nppb-/- females developed mesenteric polyarteritis-nodosa (PAN)-like vasculitis in their life span, some as early as 4 months of age. Mesenteric lesions involved intense arterial remodeling, progressive inflammation, occluded lumens, and less frequently intestinal necrosis and multiple visceral arterial aneurysms. Cumulative pathologies resulted in a significant decline in survival of the Nppb-/- female. This study highlights BNPs vasoprotective propensity, bringing to light a possible sex specific difference in the cardiovascular protection provided by BNP. Defects in the BNP/GC-A/cGMP pathway may play a role in arteriopathies in women, while GC-A agonists may provide effective therapy for arteritis.
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