glycoprotein hormones, alpha subunitmedical dictionary

A non-covalently bound subunit of the glycoprotein hormones tsh, fsh, lh, and hcg which originates in the anterior pituitary gland and placenta. This subunit is virtually identical in structure and indistinguishable by radioimmunoassay in all of the above glycoproteins. It is present in both men and women, but is elevated in postmenopausal women and in patients with hypothyroidism, uraemia and malignant tumours. The alpha subunit may be involved directly in recognition of certain receptors.

(12 Dec 1998)