Evolution, Biochemistry, Actions & Pathophysiology of LH and hCG

Discussion in 'Steroid Post Cycle Therapy and ASIH Treatment' started by Michael Scally MD, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. Michael Scally MD

    Michael Scally MD Doctor of Medicine

    Two Hormones for One Receptor: Evolution, Biochemistry, Actions and Pathophysiology of LH and hcg

    Essential points

    · In the last decade, the two hormones LH and hCG were considered equivalent since they bind the same receptor, clearly activating the classically known cAMP/PKA steroidogenic pathway.

    · Clinical evidences of small or undetectable different outcomes between LH or hCG usage underlined this concept.

    · Recent in vitro studies demonstrated that intracellular signaling, downstream events and cell fate are specifically mediated by LH and hCG.

    · LH activates preferentially ERK1/2- and AKT-dependent proliferative signals, while hCG is mainly progestinic, supporting the physiological roles of the two hormones.

    · In the last twenty years, studies comparing the use of commercial LH and hCG preparations in reproductive medicine provided clinical evidence of the differences observed in vitro, confirming in vitro results.

    · These data indicate that LH and hCG have unreplaceable roles, overthrewing the old concept that they are equivalent and revisiting the basis on which clinicians decide the application of these hormones.

    Luteinizing hormone (LH) and chorionic gonadotropin (CG) are glycoproteins fundamental for sexual development and reproduction. Since they act on the same receptor (LHCGR), there is a general consensus that LH and hCG are equivalent. However, separate evolution of LHβ and hCGβ subunits occurred in primates, resulting in two molecules sharing ∼85% identity and regulating different physiological events.

    Pituitary, pulsatile LH production results in a ∼90 min half-life molecule targeting the gonads, to regulate gametogenesis and androgen synthesis. Trophoblast hCG, the “pregnancy hormone”, exists in several isoforms and glycosylation variants with long half-lives (hours), angiogenic potential, and acts on luteinized ovarian cells as a progestational. The different molecular features of LH and hCG lead to hormone-specific LHCGR binding and intracellular signaling cascades.

    In ovarian cells, LH action is preferentially exerted through kinases, pERK1/2 and pAKT, resulting in irreplaceable proliferative/anti-apoptotic signals and partial agonism on progesterone production in vitro. In contrast, hCG displays notable cAMP/PKA-mediated steroidogenic and pro-apoptotic potential, which is masked by estrogen action in vivo. In vitro data are confirmed by large dataset from assisted reproduction, since the steroidogenic potential of hCG positively impacts on the number of retrieved oocytes, while LH impacts pregnancy rate (per oocyte number).

    Interestingly, Leydig cell in vitro exposure to hCG results in qualitatively similar cAMP/PKA and pERK1/2 activation as compared to LH, as well as testosterone.

    The supposed equivalence of LH and hCG is debunked by such data highlighting their sex-specific functions, thus deeming it an oversight caused by incomplete understanding of clinical data.

    Casarini L, Santi D, Brigante G, Simoni M. Two hormones for one receptor: evolution, biochemistry, actions and pathophysiology of LH and hCG. Endocrine reviews 2018. Two hormones for one receptor: evolution, biochemistry, actions and pathophysiology of LH and hCG | Endocrine Reviews | Oxford Academic