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Endocr Rev. 2000 Feb;21(1):5-22.

Definition and measurement of follicle stimulating hormone.

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Division of Endocrinology, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.


FSH has a key role in the development and function of the reproductive system and is widely used both diagnostically and therapeutically in developmental and reproductive medicine. The accurate measurement of FSH levels, in patients for diagnosis and monitoring and in therapeutic preparations for clinical use, is essential for safe and successful treatment. Historically, FSH was defined on the basis of classical in vivo endocrine activity, and early therapeutic preparations were calibrated using in vivo bioassays. There was early recognition that reference preparations were required for calibration if the results from different laboratories were to be comparable. In response to the perceived need, the World Health Organization established the first standard for such preparations in 1959. Subsequent developments in biotechnology have led to recognition that there is no single molecule that can be uniquely defined as FSH, and that FSH can induce a range of biological activities. Several highly purified standards for FSH are now available, but discontinuity and heterogeneity of estimates of FSH activity in terms of these standards made using in vitro assays and binding assays have been noted. It is thus essential that any measurement of FSH include specification both of the standard with which the measured FSH is compared and the assay method used for that comparison.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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