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Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

hCG is a glycoprotein synthesised by the syncytiotrophoblast of the placenta throughout pregnancy. hCG-molecular weight 37.9 kDa - comprises two subunits. The hCG α subunit -molecular weight 14.9 Kda - is chemically similar to the α subunits of FSH, LH and TSH hormones. The hCG β subunit
molecular weight 23.0 kDa - has a structure similar to that of the LH β subunit, differing by only a few epitopes. hCG has biological characteristics imilar to LH. During pregnancy, hCG stimulates the remaining corpus luteum and the placental tissue to secrete the various steroid hormones. In addition to its stimulating action on the luteal and placental tissue, hCG, by crossing the placenta, is essential to differentiate the genital tractus of the fetus, which occurs around the 7th week of pregnancy.

Clinical applications:

  • Diagnostic and monitoring test in pregnancyhCG and its free subunits α and β appear in the serum and urine of pregnant women about 9 days
    following ovulation. The hCG level then increases rapidly to reach a peak between the 8th and the 12th week.
  • Tumour marker test in trophoblastic tumours
  • Hydatiform moles and choriocarcinomas may secrete large amounts of native hCG and its two free
    subunits α and β into the peripheral blood circulation
  • Tumour marker test in non-trophoblastic cancers: 10 to 15 % of the breast, lung, and digestive tract cancers release hCG and/or either of its two constitutive subunits α and β
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