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OBJECTIVES - The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between sex hormones and natriuretic peptide levels in community-based adults.
BACKGROUND - Women have higher circulating natriuretic peptide concentrations than men, but the mechanisms for these sex-related differences and the impact of hormone therapy are unclear. Experimental studies suggest that androgens may suppress natriuretic peptide secretion.
METHODS - We measured N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), total testosterone, and sex hormone-binding globulin plasma levels in 4,056 men and women (mean age 40 ± 9 years) from the Framingham Heart Study Third-Generation cohort. Sex/hormone status was grouped as: 1) men; 2) post-menopausal women not receiving hormone replacement therapy; 3) pre-menopausal women not receiving hormonal contraceptives; 4) post-menopausal women receiving hormone replacement therapy; and 5) pre-menopausal women receiving hormonal contraceptives.
RESULTS - Circulating NT-proBNP levels were associated with sex/hormone status (overall p < 0.0001). Men had lower NT-proBNP levels than women of all menopause or hormone groups, and women receiving hormonal contraceptives had higher NT-proBNP levels than women who were not receiving hormone therapy (all p < 0.0001). These relationships remained significant after adjusting for age, body mass index, and cardiovascular risk factors. Across sex/hormone status groups, free testosterone (FT) levels decreased and sex hormone-binding globulin levels increased in tandem with increasing NT-proBNP levels. In sex-specific analyses, NT-proBNP levels decreased across increasing quartiles of FT in men (p for trend <0.01) and women (p for trend <0.0001). Adjustment for FT markedly attenuated the association between sex/hormone status and NT-proBNP concentrations.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings suggest that lower levels of circulating androgens and the potentiating effect of exogenous female hormone therapy contribute to the higher circulating NT-proBNP concentrations in women.
Copyright © 2011 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.