Immunoassay for the in vitro quantitative determination of the sum of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) plus the hCG beta-subunit in human serum and plasma.1 This assay is intended for the early detection of pregnancy.
Similarly to LH, FSH, and TSH, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a member of the glycoprotein family and consists of two subunits (α and β chains) that are associated to the intact hormone.1-7 The α-chains in all four of these glycoprotein hormones are virtually identical, whereas the β-chains have greatly differing structures and are responsible for the respective specific hormonal functions. hCG is produced in the placenta during pregnancy. In nonpregnant women, it can also be produced by tumors of the trophoblast, germ cell tumors with trophoblastic components, and some nontrophoblastic tumors.
Human chorionic gonadotropin consists of a number of isohormones with differing molecular size. The biological action of hCG serves to maintain the corpus luteum during pregnancy. It also influences steroid production. The serum of pregnant women contains mainly intact hCG. Measurement of the hCG concentration permits the diagnosis of pregnancy just one week after conception. The determination of hCG in the first trimester of pregnancy is of particular importance.
Elevated values here serve as an indication of chorionic carcinoma, hydatiform mole, or multiple pregnancy. Depressed values indicate threatening or missed abortion, ectopic pregnancy, gestosis, or intrauterine death. Elevated hCG concentrations not associated with pregnancy are found in patients with other diseases, such as tumors of the germ cells, ovaries, bladder, pancreas, stomach, lungs, and liver, or those using hCG therapy.