Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is made by Trophoblasts, the major component of placenta. It has two subunits, α and β, in structure. Subunit β is (βHCG) more specific in differentiating hCG from the rest of the molecules with similar structure.
hCG has multiple functions:
1. Pregnancy surveillance: βHCG first appears in the maternal blood on average 9 days (range: 6-12 days) after ovulation if the embryo successfully implants into the uterus. Then it’s level rises rapidly to reach a peak at 7-10 weeks, followed by a drop in blood.
2. Ovulation induction: Both Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and hCG work on LH receptor. Therefore, hCG is extensively used parenterally for final maturation induction in lieu of luteinizing hormone. Ovidrel is a form of hCG produced with recombinant DNA technology.
3. Luteal Phase support: hCG is administrated after embryo transfers to augment ovarian progesterone release and promote the growth and development of trophoblast.
4. Tumor marker: Some forms of cancer, such as Choriocarcinoma, secrete hCG. Therefore, hCG may be used as a tumor marker for diagnosis and surveillance.
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