Serum levels of β-subunit of chorionic gonadotropin in patients with pituitary tumors

P. Gil-del-Alamo, K. Saccomanno, A. Lania, K. S. Pettersson, P. Beck-Peccoz, A. Spada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many studies have shown that normal and tumoral pituitary is able to synthesize chorionic gonadotropin (CG). The aim of the present work was to investigate the circulating levels of free β-subunit of CG (CG-β) in a large number of patients with pituitary tumors in basal conditions and after thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) injection. The study includes 27 healthy subjects, 23 patients with prolactinoma, 20 with growth hormone-secreting adenoma and 77 with non-functioning pituitary adenoma (NFPA). The CG-β was evaluated using a new one-step immunometric assay employing two monoclonal antibodies directed against epitopes present only on the free CG-β and showing a detection limit of 0.04 U/l and a cross-reactivity with complete CG <0.01%. In basal conditions, serum CG-β was undetectable in healthy subjects and in the majority of patients, while in seven patients with NFPA and four with prolactinoma the CG-β values ranged between 0.05 and 0.72 U/l. In these 11 patients serum levels of intact CG were found within the normal range (normal range <5 U/l), while two patients with NFPA and one with prolactinoma had levels of free α-subunit inappropriately high with respect to gonadotropins and thyrotropin. Injection of TRH caused CG-β to increase in two out of 16 patients with NFPA, whereas it was ineffective in 12 healthy subjects and 10 patients with prolactinoma. The present data indicate that detectable level of CG-β not associated with hypersecretion of the intact CG molecule may be observed in about 10% of patients with NFPA or prolactinoma, while abnormal CG-β responses to TRH are observed infrequently in individual patients with NFPA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-37
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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