Human chorionic gonadotropin free β-subunit in the human seminal plasma: A new marker for spermatogenesis?

E. Caroppo, C. Niederberger, P. A. Iacovazzi, M. Correale, A. Palagiano, G. D'Amato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the past 20 years, several factors were detected in the human seminal plasma and proposed as markers for spermatogenesis. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and its β-subunit were therefore investigated, and their seminal levels were found to be higher than those detected in the serum and to correlate with sperm parameters. Objective: We designed a retrospective study to determine the suitability of hCG free β-subunit concentration in the seminal plasma of fertile and infertile male patients as marker of spermatogenesis. Study design: A total of 79 infertile male patients were divided into four groups by their semen analysis results (group 1 [n = 8]: azoospermia; group 2 [n = 21]: severe oligozoospermia; group 3 [n = 40]: oligoasthenospermia (OAS); group 4 [n = 10]: asthenospermia) and 10 healthy volunteers of proven fertility were evaluated. Results: The hCG free β-subunit levels in the seminal plasma were found to be significantly higher (P <0.0001) in the control group in respect to those assayed in the infertile patients and showed a correlation with sperm count (r = 0.5) and total motile sperm density (r = 0.5). Twenty-five patients were on treatment with oral Mesterolone (100 mg daily) plus Tamoxifen (20 mg daily) for 3-6 months. Apart from a significant improvement (P <0.05) in sperm morphology, no significant changes in sperm count and motility were observed after the treatment in all the patients. In the seminal plasma of 10 patients who showed a significant increase in sperm count, hCG free β-subunit levels were found to be significantly higher compared to those detected in the remaining patients (P <0.01). In all patients, these levels remained unchanged after the treatment. Conclusions: The evidence regarding the positive correlation between hCG free β-subunit levels in the seminal plasma and sperm concentration is consistent with the previous results regarding hCG levels. A previous study demonstrated that testosterone levels in seminal plasma correlated with sperm concentrations; from the same evidence regarding hCG we hypothesize that seminal plasma testosterone and hCG levels are correlated. Thus, hCG may play a paracrine role in the intratesticular regulation of testosterone secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 10 2003


  • hCG free β-subunit
  • Human seminal plasma
  • Male infertility
  • Mesterolone
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Tamoxifen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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