Human choriogonadotropin (hCG): comparisons between determinations of intact hCG, free hCG beta-subunit, and "total" hCG + beta in serum during the first half of high-risk pregnancy.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sint-Radboud Hospital, Catholic University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Clinical Chemistry (Impact Factor: 7.15). 05/1990; 36(4):651-5.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We have studied the concentrations of intact human choriogonadotropin (hCG) and the free hCG beta-subunit in blood samples from singleton pregnancies at risk for habitual or threatened abortion. The samples were obtained weekly between the 6th and 12th weeks and in the 14th and 16th weeks of gestational age. The concentrations of intact hCG, of the free hCG beta-subunit, and of "total" hCG (i.e., intact hCG and the free hCG beta-subunit: hCG + beta) were measured in serum by specific immunoassays. The distributional statistics (the 5th, 50th, and 95th percentiles) of "total" hCG + beta and of intact hCG showed very similar patterns, whereas the response curves for the free hCG beta-subunit showed very much lower serum concentrations. From these data we also estimated distributional statistics of the percent molar ratios of free hCG beta-subunit to intact hCG. We conclude that (a) the relatively small proportion of free hCG beta-subunit in serum during the first half of singleton pregnancy is far too low to interfere with the applied "total" hCG assay, as compared with the serum values obtained for intact hCG, and (b) the percent molar ratios of free hCG beta-subunit to intact hCG, or to "total" hCG + beta, never exceeded 1.0% throughout the period of pregnancy studied.

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    ABSTRACT: Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a heterodimeric glycoprotein hormone that exists in multiple forms. Immunoassays commonly used in clinical laboratories measure intact hCG, total beta hCG (intact hCG + hCG free beta-subunit), and/or hCG free beta-subunit. Measurement of serum concentrations of hCG is useful for confirmation and monitoring of pregnancy, diagnosis of trophoblastic diseases and monitoring of the efficacy of treatment, and prenatal screening. Correctly reporting results for the various forms of hCG is clinically important. We prepared samples by addition of intact hCG and hCG free beta-subunit to an essentially hCG-free human serum matrix. The samples were analyzed by participant laboratories using various immunoassay methods. We identified errors in participant reporting of intact hCG results as total beta hCG (9.3%; 22 of 235 laboratories) and total beta hCG as intact hCG (13.1%; 8 of 61 laboratories). Many factors contribute to the erroneous reporting of hCG results, including (a) the complexity of hCG molecule and confusion of nomenclature on the various forms of hCG; (b) laboratory personnel's lack of awareness of the distinctions of the forms of hCG and failure to recognize the specificity of assays for their measurement; (c) lack of clarity and uniformity in manufacturers' reagent labeling; and (d) most product inserts' lack of information on the specificity of each method to the various forms of hCG.
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