The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is a glycoprotein hormone which plays a vital role in human reproduction.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is accepted by a trans-membrane receptor: luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR), lutropin/choriogonadotropin receptor (LCGR) or luteinizing hormone/choriogonadotropin receptor (LHCGR) of the ovary and stimulates the maintenance of the corpus luteum, temporary endocrine structure in female mammals involved in the production of high levels of progesterone, estradiol and inhibin A.
High levels of progesterone thicken the uterus wall with a thick lining of capillaries and blood vessels to be able to sustain a growing fetus. This hormone also protects the fetus from harmful immune cells from the mother during its early development. This is due to the net negative molecular charge of HCG which repels the other immune cells which also has a net negative charge and HCG also prevents the deterioration of the corpus luteum.
This hormone is produced by the syncytiotrophoblast in the placenta alongside other hormones such as progesterone, human placental lactogen and leptin. This hormone can then be extracted from pregnant women’s urine or artificially produced using recombinant DNA technology from cultures of modified cells.
Bearing the chemical formula C1105H1770N318O336S26, HCG is a large molecule with molecular mass 25719.70 amu. It’s composed of 273 amino acids divided into two subunits: Alpha subunit (92 amino acids) and Beta subunit (145 amino acids). These two subunits generate a small hydrophobic core enclosed in a high surface area-to-volume ratio of 2.8 times that of the core. The outer amino acids are hydrophilic thus maintaining the stability of the molecule.
Blood or urine concentrations of HCG is used to determine pregnancy, with blood levels reliably indicating positive results earlier than its urine counterpart. The urine test is extensively used in commercial pregnancy tests and is widely available from over the counter pharmaceutical outlets.These tests may also give a preview to how healthy the pregnancy is and any abnormalities it might be facing.
Blood concentration levels of HCG may also indicate abnormalities in a healthy non-pregnant individual and can be used as a marker for tumor and may be used to detect some cancers in both men and women.
Synthetic induction of this hormone is also used to induce ovulation of the ovaries for females and promote testosterone production in males. Direct injection of HCG through the bloodstream is also used for artificial ovulation or induced ovulation treatments which is a very important stage in the artificial means of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy.
It also bears potential applications to cell differentiation, contraceptive technology, immunosuppression during pregnancy to prevent fetal rejection, and immunology. However, clinical trials have yet to discover a second generation of reagents which could be used in vaccines that would be safe and effective when used in humans.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is a naturally occurring hormone that has worked wonders for modern medicine. It has been present since the beginning of man and has heavily influenced the healthcare of today, from early pregnancy detection to assisting in the reproduction of individuals who are facing reproduction problems such as infertility and erratic hormonal cycles. HCG also holds potential in the world of performance-enhancing drugs and has seen an increase with various anabolic androgenic steroid cycles and therefore resulted in the ban against HCG in some sports.
HCG induced diet for weight loss purposes has been proven ineffective and there’s no scientific evidence that HCG works as a treatment for obesity since the analysis found insufficient evidence that HCG affects fat distribution and hunger reduction. Therefore, aside from pregnancy or fertility related issues, HCG should not be used to treat any other condition without proper medical prescription.