It is widely known that luteinising hormone (LH) and human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) are integral in the female reproductive lifecycle. Due to the common binding site and similarity in molecular structure, they were previously thought to have overlapping roles. However, with the development of both purified urinary-derived and recombinant gonadotrophins, the individual characteristics of these molecules have begun to be defined. There is evidence to suggest that LH and hCG preferentially activate different signalling cascades and display different receptor-binding kinetics. The data generated on the two molecules have led to an improved understanding of their distinct physiological functions, resulting in a debate among clinicians regarding the most beneficial use of LH- and hCG-containing products for ovarian stimulation (OS) in assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Over the past few decades, a number of trials have generated data supporting the use of hCG for OS in ART. Indeed, the data indicated that hCG plays an important role in folliculogenesis, leads to improved endometrial receptivity and is associated with a higher quality of embryos, while presenting a favourable safety profile. These observations support the increased use of hCG as a method to provide LH bioactivity during OS. This review summarises the molecular and functional differences between hCG and LH, and provides an overview of the clinical trial data surrounding the use of products for OS that contain LH bioactivity, examining their individual effect on outcomes such as endometrial receptivity, oocyte yield and embryo quality, as well as key pregnancy outcomes.
- Assisted reproductive technology
- Human chorionic gonadotrophin
- Human menopausal gonadotrophin
- Luteinising hormone
- Ovarian stimulation