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Neprilysin inhibition promotes skeletal growth via the CNP/NPR-B pathway.

Endocrinology 2024 May 17
C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) plays a crucial role in enhancing endochondral bone growth and holds promise as a therapeutic agent for impaired skeletal growth. To overcome CNP's short half-life, we explored the potential of dampening its clearance system. Neprilysin (NEP) is an endopeptidase responsible for catalyzing the degradation of CNP. Thus, we investigated the effects of NEP inhibition on skeletal growth by administering sacubitril, a NEP inhibitor, to C57BL/6 mice. Remarkably, we observed a dose-dependent skeletal overgrowth phenotype in mice treated with sacubitril. Histological analysis of the growth plate revealed a thickening of the hypertrophic and proliferative zones, mirroring the changes induced by CNP administration. The promotion of skeletal growth observed in wild-type mice treated with sacubitril was nullified by the knockout of cartilage-specific NPR-B. Notably, sacubitril promoted skeletal growth in mice only at 3-4 weeks of age, a period when endogenous CNP and NEP expression was higher in the lumbar vertebrae. Additionally, sacubitril facilitated endochondral bone growth in organ culture experiments using tibial explants from fetal mice. These findings suggest that NEP inhibition significantly promotes skeletal growth via the CNP/NPR-B pathway, warranting further investigations for potential applications in people with short stature.

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