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The influence of prolactin on the assay of human menopausal gonadotrophin (HMG) and human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) has been studied. Various bioassay methods were used and the experiments were conducted in two independent laboratories.

In hypophysectomized immature male rats the response of the ventral lobe of the prostate to HMG was not affected by simultaneous administration of prolactin. It was concluded that, in the case of urinary extracts, prolactin did not interfere with the specificity of this test for interstitial cell stimulating hormone activity.

Valid assays of HMG by the rat uterus and mouse uterus tests could be obtained in the presence of relatively large quantities of prolactin.

When HCG was assayed by the rat uterus test and by tests depending on the enlargement of the accessory reproductive organs in male rats, simultaneous administration of prolactin did not affect the results obtained.

In immature male rats prolactin did not prevent the regression of the accessory organs which occurs after castration.

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Eight highly purified human pituitary FSH preparations and purified preparations of the α-and β-subunits of FSH were fractionated by an electrofocusing technique in the pH range of 2·5–10·0 on a sucrose density gradient. The human (h) FSH activity in each of the eluted fractions was monitored by an in-vitro bioassay and a radioimmunoassay procedure.

After electrofocusing, the overall recovery of the biological activity of the eight preparations was between 80 and 94% (mean 88%). On the other hand, the recovery of immunoreactivity ranged between 30 and 84% (mean 71%). A loss of over 85% of hFSH immunoreactivity was observed when the α- and β-subunits of hFSH were fractionated by the same procedure.

The specific loss of varying amounts of immunoreactivity in all preparations during electrofocusing was also reflected by a proportional increase in the ratios of biological activity (B) to immunoreactivity (I); preparation A, which exhibited a loss of 70% of the immunoreactivity, had a threefold increase in its B/I ratio after electrofocusing.

Significant differences were observed in the electrofocusing profiles of the eight preparations both in terms of their pI values and of their spread.

The disparity in the relative distribution of hFSH activities in different pH regions suggested major differences in the carbohydrate moieties (sialic acid content) of the preparations studied, probably as a result of the chemical manipulations involved in the purification of the hormone. It is suggested that a combination of several (but certainly not all) of the preparations might serve as a provisional International Reference Preparation for hFSH radioimmunoassays.

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A. A. Zaidi, M. H. Qazi, and E. Diczfalusy

Five highly purified human pituitary LH preparations (candidate preparations for a new International Reference Preparation (IRP) and coded A to E) and three highly purified commercial preparations (referred to as Kabi I, II and III) were fractionated by electrofocusing on a sucrose density gradient with ampholytes in the pH range of 3·5–10·0 The LH activity was monitored in each of the eluted fractions by an in-vitro bioassay and a radioimmunoassay procedure and the profiles of biological activity and immunoreactivity were compared with those of the first IRP of Human Pituitary Luteinizing Hormone for Immunoassay (code no. 68/40).

The overall recovery of the biological activity after electrofocusing of the nine preparations ranged between 75 and 92% (mean 86%) and was higher (P < 0·05) than that of the immunological reactivity which varied between 71 and 94% (mean 79%).

The profiles of the biological activity and immunological reactivity were in close agreement with each other in all preparations. Significant differences were, however, observed in the distribution of various molecular species between the currently used standard and the eight other highly purified preparations.

The ratios of biological activity (B) to immunoreactivity (I) of preparation B and of the three Kabi preparations were significantly higher than those of the other five preparations, both before and after electrofocusing. After electrofocusing, a slight but significant (P < 0·05) rise in the B/I ratios was observed, suggesting that some biologically inactive immunoreactive material was removed during fractionation. All purified preparations lacked the characteristic 'acidic' human LH species which accompanies FSH and which is abundant in the IRP (69/104) and is also present in aqueous extracts of postmenopausal pituitary glands.

A comparison of the electrofocusing profiles of the nine highly purified preparations with those of human LH from plasma and individual pituitary glands revealed marked differences, suggesting that the methods used for the purification of the hormone significantly altered its molecular composition.

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The levels of pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHA), androstenedione, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), oestrone, oestradiol, cortisol and luteinizing hormone (LH) were measured in the peripheral plasma of a group of young, apparently healthy males before and after masturbation. The same steroids were also determined in a control study, in which the psychological anticipation of masturbation was encouraged, but the physical act was not carried out. The plasma levels of all steroids were significantly increased after masturbation, whereas steroid levels remained unchanged in the control study. The most marked changes after masturbation were observed in pregnenolone and DHA levels. No alterations were observed in the plasma levels of LH.

Both before and after masturbation plasma levels of testosterone were significantly correlated to those of DHT and oestradiol, but not to those of the other steroids studied. On the other hand, cortisol levels were significantly correlated to those of pregnenolone, DHA, androstenedione and oestrone.

In the same subjects, the levels of pregnenolone, DHA, androstenedione, testosterone and DHT in seminal plasma were also estimated; they were all significantly correlated to the levels of the corresponding steroid in the systemic blood withdrawn both before and after masturbation.

As a practical consequence, the results indicate that whenever both blood and semen are analysed, blood sampling must precede semen collection.

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The FSH potencies of 12 preparations of highly purified human pituitary FSH, originating from six different laboratories, were determined by in-vivo and in-vitro bioassays and by immunoassay in terms of the First International Reference Preparation of Human Pituitary Gonadotrophins (FSH and LH) for Bioassay (IRP; coded 69/104). The contamination of these FSH preparations with LH was also determined. Estimates of protein content were based on the absorbance at 280 nm of solutions of the preparations, assuming that A1% 1 cm 280 = 10.

The FSH potencies varied between different preparations from 827 i.u./mg to 13 100 i.u./mg by in-vivo bioassay; from 2930 to 14 600 i.u./mg by in-vitro bioassay and from 1680 to 5690 i.u./mg by immunoassay. The ratios of in-vivo biological activity relative to in-vitro biological activity and to immunoreactivity respectively varied between preparations from 0·06 to 2·3 and from 0·15 to 4·1, and there was a significant positive correlation between each of these ratios and the in-vivo biological potency of the preparations; such differences could be due to varying degrees of sialylation between preparations. On the other hand the ratios of in-vitro biological activity to immunoreactivity between preparations were fairly constant (approx. 2). The excess biological activity relative to immunoreactivity observed, in terms of the IRP, in all these materials is consistent with recent findings of some immunoreactive FSH in the IRP unassociated with biological activity. These data did not demonstrate any significant advantage, in terms of FSH in-vivo biological potency, from the use of fresh-frozen rather than acetone-dried pituitary glands for the isolation of FSH.

Contamination of all these preparations with LH appeared to be less than 3% (w/w), as determined by in-vitro bioassay and by immunoassay.

The results of this study are discussed in relation to the selection of material for an international reference preparation for immunoassay and attention is drawn to the value of high in-vivo biological FSH potency as a criterion of the identity of a preparation as well as of its freedom from contaminants without FSH biological activity.

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P. L. Storring, S. A. Khan, Y. G. Mistry, and E. Diczfalusy


The LH biological potency of the International Reference Preparation (IRP) of Human Pituitary LH for Immunoassay (IRP 68/40) relative to that of the 2nd IRP of Human Pituitary FSH and LH for Bioassay (IRP 78/549) is markedly greater when estimated by in-vitro interstitial cell testosterone production (TICT) bioassay than by in-vivo bioassay, and by the 4-h ovarian ascorbate depletion (OAAD) assay than by the 4-day seminal vesicle weight gain assay. Other preparations of human LH which, like IRP 68/40, were highly purified, showed a similar spectrum of bioactivity in these assay systems and also contained a higher proportion of more basic LH isoforms than are found in crude pituitary extracts such as IRP 78/549.

In an attempt to explain these differences, a comparison was made of the plasma survival in rats of the LH bioactivity (by TICT assay) of these two preparations. Contrary to expectation, their relative plasma clearance rates over a 4-h period did not account for their differing bioactivities. The plasma half-life of the LH bioactivity (with 95% confidence limits) was estimated to be 42·4 (35·3–49·5) min for IRP 68/40 and 41·3 (31·5–51·0) min for IRP 78/549.

Furthermore the time-course of action in vivo of IRP 78/549 did not appear to be more prolonged than that of IRP 68/40. Thus their plasma testosterone responses during the course of these 4-h plasma clearance studies were similar, and estimates of the LH potency of IRP 68/40 relative to that of IRP 78/549 were no greater by 2-h than by 4-h OAAD assay.

The more basic isoforms of LH present in IRP 68/40 and in other purified human LH preparations may therefore differ from those in crude pituitary extracts, such as IRP 78/549, in their intrinsic activity to stimulate the different target cells in these assay systems rather than in their bioavailability in vivo.

J. Endocr. (1988) 119, 327–334

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1. The gonadotrophic activity of two preparations from human postmenopausal urine (HMG-20A and HMG-J) has been compared. Various bioassay methods were used and the experiments were conducted in six different laboratories.

2. The mean relative potency of HMG-J in terms of HMG-20A varied according to the assay method used. Possible reasons for the differing potency ratios are discussed.

3. It is concluded that for the assay of pituitary gonadotrophins in urine the method of preparation of extracts should be similar to that of the standard.