Strasburger, Christian J.; Wu, Zida; Pflaum, Claus-Dieter; Dressendörfer, Regina A.
Immunofunctional assay of human growth hormone (hGH) in serum: A possible consensus for quantitative hGH measurement.
In: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 81, No. 7: pp. 2613-2620
Confirmation of the diagnosis of GH deficiency in adults and children involves provocative testing for human (h) GH. Different commercially available immunoassays yield largely discrepant results in the measurement of GH levels in human serum. These discrepancies result in doubtful relevance of cut-off levels proposed for GH provocative testing. We have developed an immunofunctional assay method that allows quantitation of only those GH forms in circulation that possess both binding sites of the hormone for its receptor and thus can initiate a biological signal in target cells. An anti-hGH monoclonal antibody recognizing binding site 2 of hGH is immobilized and used to capture hGH from the serum sample. Biotin-labeled recombinant GH-binding protein in a second incubation step forms a complex with those hGH molecular isoforms that have both binding sites for the receptor. The signal is detected after a short third incubation step with labeled streptavidin. The assay is sensitive (detection range, 0.1-100 micrograms/L) and has average inter- and intraassay precisions of 10.3% and 7.3% respectively. Endogenous GH-binding protein does not interfere with the hGH result; placental lactogen slows no detectable cross-reaction in this immunofunctional assay. The degree of immunofunctionally active hGH forms in serum samples, calculated by comparison of immunofunctional assay and RIA results, varied between 52-93%. We propose this immunofunctional assay for GH measurement as a new reference method for hGH quantitation in serum. The immunofunction assay translates only hGH forms into an assay signal that are capable of dimerizing GH receptors and, thus, of initiating a biological effect in target cells.