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Apelin is an endogenous peptide acting on the APJ receptor. It consists of several isoforms characterized by different numbers of amino acids. The number of amino acids in the active isoforms range from 36 to 12. Apelin-13 and, to a lesser extent, apelin-36 are considered the most active isoforms with the greatest activity on the cardiovascular homeostasis. The effects normally exerted by the basal level of endogenous apelin can be enhanced not only by its up-regulation, but may also by its exogenous administration. The present review considers the effects of apelin on various aspects of the cardiovascular function, such as cardiac development, vasomotor tone, angiogenesis, myocardial inotropy in healthy and failing hearts as well as the prevention of ischemia-reperfusion injury, cardiac fibrosis and remodeling. Also the biphasic changes in apelin level during the evolution of heart failure are considered. Although the positive inotropic effect exerted by apelin in normal and failing hearts would suggest the use of this peptide in the treatment of heart failure, the limited duration and extent of its effect do not support this possibility, unless a long-lasting (6 h) infusion is performed to overcome the limit of its short life. However, although the data on the characteristics of the inotropic activity do not provide a strong support for the treatment of active heart failure, apelin may be used in the prevention of heart failure because of its activity in limiting the consequences of myocardial ischemia such as infarct size and cardiac remodeling.


Anna Folino, Pier Giorgio Montarolo, Michele Samaja, Raffaella Rastaldo. Effects of apelin on the cardiovascular system. Heart failure reviews. 2015 Jul;20(4):505-18

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PMID: 25652330

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