Neutral endopeptidase (NEP)
atrial natriuretic peptide
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Neutral endopeptidase (NEP, enkephalinase, CALLA) which is present in various neural and non-neural tissues, is able to cleave a variety of regulatory peptides. The distribution of NEP has been studied during rat pre-and post-natal development by autoradiography after in vitro binding of the tritiated inhibitor [3H]HACBO-Gly to whole-body and organ sections. In the central nervous system (CNS), where the presence of NEP has been related to the termination of the action of enkephalins, the external layer of the olfactory bulbs is the only structure prominently labeled before birth. Other CNS structures rich in NEP in the adult, such as the nigrostriatal tract, are progressively labeled after birth. Outside the CNS, the progressive appearance of NEP in the kidney, the lungs and the salivary glands suggests its concomitant involvement in adult physiological functions, including fluid balance control, possibly by cleaving the atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and other peptides. On the other hand, transient or enhanced expression of NEP is observed during the development of several organs such as the sensory organs, the heart and the major blood vessels, the intestine, the bones and the genital tubercle. In addition to the still incompletely known physiological functions of the enzyme, the developmental pattern of its expression in several tissues strongly suggests a modulatory role for NEP in the ontogeny of a large number of organs.
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