Abstract

Mammalian atrial extracts possess natriuretic and diuretic activity. In experiments reported here it was found that atrial, but not ventricular, extract also causes relaxation of isolated vascular and nonvascular smooth muscle preparations. The smooth muscle relaxant activity of atrial extract was heat-stable and concentration-dependent and could be destroyed with protease. Rabbit aortic and chick rectum strips were used for the detection of atrial biological activity. The atrial activity was separated by column chromatography into two peaks having apparent molecular weights of 20,000 to 30,000 and less than 10,000. The atrial substance that copurified with the smooth muscle relaxant activity in both peaks caused natriuresis when injected into conscious rats. It appears that atria possess at least two peptides that elicit smooth muscle relaxation and natriuresis, suggesting an endogenous system of fluid volume regulation.