Biologically active chorionic gonadotropin: synthesis by the human fetus

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Science  15 Apr 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4594, pp. 306-308
DOI: 10.1126/science.6682243


The kidney, and to a slight extent the liver, of human fetuses were found to synthesize and secrete the alpha subunit common to glycoprotein hormones. Fetal lung and muscle did not synthesize this protein. Since fetal kidney and liver were previously found to synthesize beta chorionic gonadotropin, their ability to synthesize bioactive chorionic gonadotropin was also determined. The newly synthesized hormone bound to mouse Leydig cells and elicited a biological response: namely, the synthesis of testosterone. These results suggest that the human fetus may participate in metabolic homeostasis during its development.