Recombinant gonadotropins

Gonadotrophins are now also produced by recombinant DNA technology. The genes, or cDNAs coding for gonadotrophins from several species, have been identified and expressed in various

Table 11.9 Some notable non-gonadal tissues that express functional LH/hCG receptors

Pregnancy/fertility related tissue

Other tissue




Blood vessels


Adrenal cortex


Brain tissue

Foetal membranes

Prostate gland

Seminal vesicles


Sperm cells




recombinant host systems, particularly mammalian cell lines. rhFSH produced in CHO cells has proven clinically effective. Although exhibiting an amino acid sequence identical to the human molecule, its carbohydrate composition differs slightly. When administered to humans, the preparation is well tolerated and yields no unexpected side effects. It does not elicit an immunological response, and its plasma half-life is similar to the native hormone. rhFSH has proven efficacious in stimulating follicular growth in females suffering from hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism and is effective in the treatment of males suffering from similar conditions. rhFSH was amongst the first biopharmaceutical substances to be approved for general medical use in Europe by the European Medicines Agency via the centralized application procedure (Chapter 4). Recombinant gonadotropins approved for general medical use are listed in Table 11.10 and additional details of one representative product (Ovitrelle) are provided in Box 11.6.

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