Secretion of alpha subunits of luteinizing hormone (Lh) by the anterior pituitary

M. Edmonds, M. Molitch, J. G. Pierce, W. D. Odell

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63 Scopus citations


Free alpha subunit chains of the glycopeptide pituitary hormones have been found in the sera of normal subjects and postmenopausal women. To ascertain whether the alpha subunit of LH is directly secreted by the pituitary or formed as a result of degradation of intact LH in the periphery, alpha subunits and intact LH were measured by radioimmunoassay in human volunteers after LRF stimulation and purified LH infusion. In 4 subjects a loading dose of 90 IU, followed by the infusion of 22.5 IU of purified human LH over 30 min, produced peak serum LH levels of 41 mlU/ml but no change in alpha subunit levels. A similar bolus of 140 IU followed by the infusion of 35 IU of purified human LH to an additional 4 subjects, produced peak LH levels of 80 mlU/ml, but again, no change in alpha subunits. In the same two groups of subjects 100/μg of LRF produced peak LH levels of 25 mlU/ml and 48 mlU/ml, respectively, with significant alpha subunit elevations at 20 min of 1.7 ng/ml and 2.7 ng/ml, respectively. In separate groups of men LRF was administered over a wide dose range of 1 to 3, 000/μg and LH and the alpha subunit measured. A dose-response curve existed over the entire LRF dose range for blood LH; no minimum or maximum plateaus were observed over the range studied. However, the alpha chain response appeared to reach a maximal plateau at a dose of 100 fig of LRF. The results are compatible with the hypothesis that the alpha subunits appearing in the peripheral circulation in response to LRF are due to secretion by the anterior pituitary and not due to peripheral degradation of intact secreted LH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-555
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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