Luteinizing hormone (LH) is a gonadotropic hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland and operates in conjunction with FSH to drive puberty, menstruation and fertility. A surge in LH levels triggers ovulation and the development of the corpus luteum in females, and in males it causes the Leydig cells to release testosterone.
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Luteinizing hormone (LH)
High levels of luteinizing hormone can indicate a problem with infertility as the hormone directly impacts the reproductive system. In women, LH levels that are too high are often connected to polycystic ovary syndrome, which creates inappropriate testosterone levels. Some genetic conditions, like Turner syndrome or Klinefelter syndrome, can cause high levels of the hormone.
Low levels of luteinizing hormone can also cause infertility, because insufficient levels will limit the production of sperm or the ovulation process in women. LH deficiency almost always occurs in conjunction with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) deficiency because LH and FSH are secreted by the same pituitary gonadotrope cells. LH deficiency can manifest in females or males as delayed puberty, hypogonadism at any age, or reproductive abnormalities that can be dramatic or subtle.
LH is composed of two noncovalently associated dissimilar amino acid chains, alpha and beta. The alpha chain is similar to that found in human thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). LH diagnostic assays are useful to evaluate fertility issues, the function of reproductive organs (ovaries or testicles), or to detect ovulation. In children it can also be useful to evaluate early or delayed sexual maturation. The most sensitive LH assays on the market are monoclonal antibody based competitive-ELISAs. However, lateral flow devices using antibody sandwich-based formats are widely used for at-home ovulation tracking.
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