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Clin Investig. 1993 Nov;71(11):953-60.

Molecular heterogeneity of human chorionic gonadotropin in serum and urine from patients with trophoblastic tumors.

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Medizinische Klinik II, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t M√ľnchen.


Many studies on the structure and function of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) have relied on purified hCG preparations obtained from pregnancy urine. In the present studies, in order to demonstrate possible differences between the hCG species present in serum and those released into urine, we examined serum and urinary samples derived from patients with trophoblastic tumors and of pregnancy origin by sodium dodecyl sulfate electrophoresis, isoelectric focusing, and two-dimensional electrophoresis including immunostaining with a specific hCG antibody and densitometry of the protein bands. This type of analysis was presently feasible only in patients presenting with extremely high serum levels of hCG and was therefore limited to seven patients with testicular cancers, one woman with a hydatidiform mole, and one pregnancy sample. We found marked differences in the isoelectric focusing pattern between urinary and serum hCG samples, with the urinary hCG consisting of more alkaline pI variants than that present in the serum of the same patients. Tumor hCG differed from pregnancy hCG in that it contained more acidic variants, and this was true for urinary and serum-derived materials. In some tumor and pregnancy samples an hCG immunoreactive material of lower molecular weight than hCG itself was found. In conclusion, the present studies, extending previous findings on the microheterogeneity of hCG, indicate that serum and urinary-derived hCG may differ in the composition of the isoform spectrum, as does tumor and pregnancy hCG. Further, in some patients hCG immunoreactive molecules exist that differ markedly from hCG in size and charge. These observations suggest that, whenever possible, serum-derived hCG materials should be used to define the molecular structure of hCG and assess its biological activities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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