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The Christchurch Heart Institute is studying a hormone called CNP, or C-type Natriuretic Peptide and the role it may play in combatting the hardening of the arteries.

What are Natriuretic Peptides?

  • They are a well family of heart hormones which respond to major heart events, like a heart attack or heart failure.
  • The family consists of 3 related hormones: Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and CNP.

What is CNP?

  • CNP is expressed in a wide range of tissues, including those outside the cardiovascular system
  • While ANP and BNP are known to be cardio-protective, the effects of CNP are not well understood.

Our researchers are investigating CNP, its relationship with the heart hormones ANP and BNP and the role CNP plays in humans. The team is also working in collaboration with colleagues from around New Zealand and the United States on CNP's role in skeletal growth, pregnancy and in nerve tissue.

Unlike ANP and BNP, CNP appears to be more active within the walls of blood vessels where it is thought to protect against the development of hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis).

Professor Espiner and Dr Prickett currently have grants from the National Heart Foundation and Lottery Health to study changes in blood and tissue levels of CNP during the build-up of vascular plaque that eventually leads to coronary artery disease.

Our researchers are also trying to evaluate whether standard cholesterol lowering drug treatments (Statins) raise the blood level of CNP, and if so, could this be used to determine the state of health of the blood vessels. There is currently no marker to evaluate the health of blood vessels which is crucial for a healthy heart.

It is envisaged that these studies could lead to new treatments for one of the most common forms of heart disease in the western world.

An Invitation to Participate in the Study

Are you between 20 and 25 or 40 and 60 years of age?

Would you be willing to volunteer for a study into the role of CNP in blood vessels?

We are looking for people

  • who do not have a history of heart disease
  • who do not have high blood pressure
  • who do not have diabetes
  • who do not have high cholesterol
  • who do not have kidney disease
  • who do not take medication,
  • with no history (1st and 2nd degree relatives) of heart disease in the family to take part in our study.

To help us in this work, we would ask you to

  • Take a licensed, routinely-used medication for lowering cholesterol
  • Come to four study visits over one week
  • Complete a short questionnaire about your own health
  • Have your blood pressure measured
  • Give a blood sample at each visit

To find out more

Contact Steph Rose on 03 378 6137 or

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