Normal ranges for immunochemiluminometric gonadotropin assays

E K Neely, R L Hintz, D M Wilson, P A Lee, T Gautier, J Argente, M Stene
Journal of Pediatrics 1995, 127 (1): 40-6

OBJECTIVE: We sought to establish normative data for spontaneous and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-stimulated serum luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels measured by new immunochemiluminometric assays (ICMA) in children and adolescents.

METHODS: Random serum samples were obtained from 375 normal subjects (0.1 to 17.7 years, 230 female subjects). Intravenous GnRH stimulation tests were performed in 41 normal subjects (4.8 to 18 years, 20 female subjects). Normal ranges were calculated by age and Tanner stage. Immunochemiluminometric assays of LH and FSH concentrations were compared with levels obtained by a sensitive immunofluorometric assay and a less sensitive radioimmunoassay.

RESULTS: Random gonadotropin concentrations in normal children followed the pattern of transient elevation in infancy, low but measurable prepubertal levels, and markedly increased values at puberty. Spontaneous LH levels were higher in male infants but were not statistically different in boys and girls after infancy. Mean prepubertal LH was 0.04 +/- 0.04 IU/L (n = 66), rising 100-fold during puberty. Spontaneous FSH levels were much higher than LH values, were higher in female infants, and rose threefold at puberty. Peak GnRH-stimulated LH was identical in prepubertal boys and girls (1.8 +/- 1.3 IU/L, n = 17) and increased 20-fold at puberty. Mean peak GnRH-stimulated FSH was highest in prepubertal female subjects. Luteinizing hormone values measured by ICMA and immunofluorometric assay were highly correlated, but radioimmunoassay levels diverged markedly from ICMA levels at lower concentrations. Because absolute levels were higher, FSH values correlated adequately in the three assays throughout the normal physiologic range.

CONCLUSIONS: Measurement of LH by ICMA is much more sensitive than older assay methods. Spontaneous LH can be accurately measured by ICMA to the very low levels present in normal prepubertal children, providing a potentially important biochemical discriminator of pubertal status. An ICMA GnRH-stimulated LH level greater than 5 IU/L is suggestive of maturing gonadotropin secretion. The ICMA LH assays provide significant enhancement in sensitivity; these assays should be used when levels may be low, and by their accuracy may reduce the time and expense of testing procedures.

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