HCG: A Hormone
Hormones are essential molecules produced by our endocrine glands. They are actively involved with many functions and processes in our bodies, such as metabolism, growth, and reproduction. Gonadotropins are hormones related to sexual development and reproduction. HCG is one of the hormones connected with pregnancy and puberty in humans.
The human chorionic gonadotropin hormone is a glycoprotein formed by the combination of a carbohydrate with two protein macromolecules: the alpha subunit made up of 92 amino acids and the beta subunit 145 amino acids long. This makes the HCG a hormone with a total of 237 amino acids or protein building blocks.
Production and Functions
HCG begins to be naturally released when the placenta or developed chorionic villi develops during implantation, the stage when an egg fertilized by a sperm cell has moved down a fallopian tube to attach to the uterine wall. In particular, the syncytiotrophoblast cells in the placenta make the HCG. Because of its secretion and increase in amount during the first three months of conception, HCG is tested to determine if a female is conceiving.
HCG has active interactions with other hormones and molecules during pregnancy to keep and nourish the growing fetus. One important hormone the HCG collaborates with is the luteinizing hormone which is produced by our pituitary glands. The luteinizing hormone triggers ovulation so fertilization can occur and it is also responsible for the development of corpus luteum in women. The corpus luteum in turn produces progesterone, also with aid from HCG. The fetus is able to obtain nourishment from the thick lining of blood vessels in the uterine wall mainly because of progesterone.
The beta subunit of HCG can also be released by certain neoplasms or tumors, some of which may be cancerous. Because of this fact that HCG can be abnormally produced by some tumors, HCG is used as tumor detector. For males and non-pregnant females, high levels of HCG indicate a high chance of having developed tumors.
The presence or exact values of HCG give information about many things and are determined from HCG tests on a urine sample or a blood sample. The presence of HCG in a urine or blood sample could mean a female is pregnant. In general, tests determining the presence of the hormone are qualitative tests, while those measuring the precise amounts are quantitative tests.
HCG is more abundant when a woman is having more than one baby at a time (i.e. cases such as expecting twins or triplets). HCG test is also a part of tests screening for birth defects or congenital abnormalities like Down syndrome. In men, HCG is one of several components in blood or urine samples evaluated to diagnose or rule out cancer of the testicles.
In other cases for women, increased HCG could signify an abnormal growth of tissues in the uterus instead of a developing fetus; high HCG could also signify cancer in the ovaries. A miscarriage (the spontaneous death of a baby) or an ectopic pregnancy (occurring when a fertilized egg implants to a fallopian tube) can be discovered from decreased HCG levels.
In general, a test with a positive result on the presence of HCG in a sample is evaluated further to determine the exact amount of HCG and then identify possible pregnancy or presence of any abnormalities.
HCG has also been applied in a wide array of other uses. The hormone has been manipulated in performance-enhancing drugs or steroids. HCG injections and drops are part of a “diet” claiming to support weight loss. HCG in steroids has been banned, and the “HCG diet” was not proven to be effective in weight reduction.
As part of fertility treatments, HCG is administered to men to boost testosterone levels and to women to promote progesterone production. It is also given to some adolescent males with delayed puberty.
HCG is one of the hormones connected with pregnancy and puberty in humans, more details are given at 1hcgdrops.