Placental Lactogen, Human (hPL)
The human placenta produces several hormones that are homologous to hormones of the anterior pituitary. One of those, Human Placental Lactogen (hPL), is a single polypeptide chain of 190 amino acid residues and is structurally similar to human prolactin and growth hormone. Not surprisingly, hPL demonstrates both lactogenic and growth-stimulating activity.
hPL serum levels rise very early in normal pregnancy and continue to increase until a plateau is reached at approximately the 35th week post-conception. As such, immunoassays for maternal serum levels of hPL are useful in monitoring placental function. In addition, serum elevations of hPL in non-pregnant individuals are associated with various malignancies.
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