Disappearance of human chorionic gonadotropin and its α- and β- subunits after term pregnancy

Juha Korhonen, Henrik Alfthan, Pekka Ylöstalo, Johannes Veldhuis, Ulf Håkan Stenman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We have used high-specificity and precision immunofluorometric assays to measure the elimination half-times of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), hCGα, and hCGβ in serum over 21 days after delivery in six women with term pregnancies. Baseline concentrations and half-times were calculated with the use of a curve-fitting algorithm for multiexponential decay. In contrast to the two-component model, a three-component exponential function with baseline provided a fit for which predicted values could not be distinguished from the observed values by analysis of variance. Median half-times were 3.6, 18.0, and 53.0 h for hCG; 1.0, 23.4, and 194 h for hCGβ; and 0.6, 6.2, and 21.9 h for hCGα. The mean ratio of hCGα to hCG decreased rapidly from 36.9% to 3.3% on day 3; thereafter it increased to 64.3% 21 days after delivery because of a higher baseline concentration of hCGα. hCGβ had the slowest total elimination rate, and the ratio of hCGβ to hCG in serum increased from 0.8% before delivery to 26.7% after 21 days. If the metabolism of hCG and hCGβ is similar in patients with trophoblastic disease, the ratio of hCGβ to hCG must be evaluated with caution in samples taken several days after initiating therapy. We conclude that the disappearance of hCGβ from plasma is slower than previously recognized and that the ratios of hCGβ or hCGα to intact hCG vary as a function of postpartum time. Such information may be important in clinical studies of pregnancy disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2155-2163
Number of pages9
JournalClinical chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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