Apelin is a biologically active protein encoded by the APLN gene. It was first isolated in 1998 as a ligand for the APJ receptor. It exists in several isoforms differing in polypeptide chain length and biological activity. It is secreted by white adipose tissue, and its expression has been identified in many body tissues, including the cardiovascular system, kidneys, lungs, CNS (especially the hypothalamus, suprachiasmatic and ventricular nuclei), skeletal muscle, mammary glands, adrenal glands, ovaries, stomach, liver cells, placenta, and breast milk. However, the highest concentrations were observed in the endocardium and endothelium of vascular smooth muscle cells. In myocardial tissue, apelin has a positive inotropic effect and exerts an opposing effect to the RAA (renin-angiotensin-aldosterone) system, lowering blood pressure. Therefore, its positive role in early stages of heart failure, in patients with hypertension and ischemic heart disease is emphasized. The synthesis and secretion of apelin by adipocytes makes it possible to classify this peptide as an adipokine. Therefore, its production in adipose tissue is enhanced in obesity. Furthermore, apelin has been shown to increase cellular sensitivity to insulin and improve glucose tolerance in the onset of type 2 diabetes, and therefore appears to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of metabolic disease. An accurate assessment of the importance of apelin in cardiovascular disease requires further studies, which may contribute to the use of apelin in the treatment of heart failure.


APJ receptor; apelin; cardiovascular system; heart failure.

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