The plasma metabolic clearance of biologically active luteinizing hormone (bioactive LH) was studied using the rat interstitial cell testosterone (RICT) bioassay in six hypogonadotropic men after single bolus injection of highly purified human LH and during continuous steady-state infusions of three graded doses of LH. The LH bolus disappearance curves provided estimates of metabolic clearance rates (MCR) of 24.1 ± 4.7 (±SD) ml/min for bioactive LH vs 56.2 ± 12 ml/min for immunoactive LH in the same men (P = 0.03). A lower MCR of bioactive LH compared with immunoactive LH was also observed during continuous infusions of physiological doses of LH; for example, the mean steady-state MCRs for bioactive and immunoactive LH were, respectively, 26.1 ± 3.1 and 34.2 ± 3.2 ml/min (P = 0.02). Moreover, the stepped-dose infusion regimens permitted us to demonstrate that increasing doses of pure human LH resulted in progressive and parallel decreases in the apparent MCRs of both bioactive and immunoactive LH. Based on the respective steady-state MCRs calculated at physiological plasma concentrations of immunoactive and bioactive LH, we estimate a mean endogenous production rate for bioactive hormone of 1,937 IU/24 h, and for immunoactive LH of 589 IU/24 h in normal men. These results indicate that previous estimates of LH production rates from immunoassay data alone markedly underestimate the quantity of biologically active hormone secreted in man.
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