Biological and immunological characterization of inhibin forms in human plasma

D. Robertson*, H. G. Burger, J. Sullivan, N. Cahir, N. Groome, E. Poncelet, P. Franchimont, T. Woodruff, J. P. Mather

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


A number of immunoassay methods have been developed recently to detect specifically the bioactive α-βA subunit inhibin dimer (inhibin A) in human plasma. However, the specificity of these assays in terms of their ability to detect the range of inhibin forms found in plasma and their relationship to bioactivity have not been investigated. Inhibin was fractionated from human follicular fluid (hFF) and serum/plasma from women stimulated with gonadotropins (IVF serum), and from postmenopausal and male plasma, using a combined immunoaffinity/preparative SDS-PAGE procedure. The molecular weight profile of inhibin was established by inhibin in vitro bioassay, three α- βA subunit specific immunoassays, and three α subunit-directed immunoassays that detect the α subunit as well as inhibin A and B forms. In hFF inhibin forms of 33, 36, 55 and 66K were detected by in vitro bioassay and by most immunoassays except for 33 k inhibin, which was nondetectable by one α-βA ELISA. The α subunit-directed assays also detected activity in the 29-31K region, in some assays in considerably high levels. In IVF serum in vitro bioactivity and immunoactivities were detected between 27 and 100K with the α-βA assays failing to detect all bioactive forms. Alpha subunit-directed assays gave similar immunoactive profiles. Neither in vitro bioassay nor α- βA assays detected activity in post-menopausal plasma or male plasma, while α subunit-directed assays showed peaks predominantly at 36 k, although at low levels. It is concluded that dimeric inhibin A specific assays detected bioactive inhibin forms in hFF and to a lesser extent in IVF serum. Alpha subunit-directed assays correlated poorly with in vitro bioassay in hFF because of the high α subunit levels in this sample. The higher correlation between these assays in IVF serum suggested that there was little free α subunit. The 36K form in male plasma may be free α subunit or inhibin B.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-676
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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