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chorionic somatomammotropin hormone 1 (placental lactogen)
Symbol CSH1
Entrez 1442
HUGO 2440
OMIM 150200
RefSeq NM_001317
UniProt Q6PF11
Other data
Locus Chr. 17 q22-q24
chorionic somatomammotropin hormone 2
Symbol CSH2
Entrez 1443
HUGO 2441
OMIM 118820
RefSeq NM_020991
UniProt P01243
Other data
Locus Chr. 17 q22-q24

Human placental lactogen (HPL), also called human chorionic somatomammotropin, is a polypeptide placental hormone. Its structure and function is similar to that of human growth hormone. It modifies the metabolic state of the mother during pregnancy to facilitate the energy supply of the fetus. HPL has anti-insulin properties.



HPL consists of 190 amino acids that are linked by two disulfide bonds and is secreted by the syncytiotrophoblast during pregnancy. Its molecular weight is 22,125. Like human growth hormone HPL is encoded by genes on chromosome 17q22-24. Its biologic half-life is 15 minutes. It was identified in 1963.[1]


HPL is only present during pregnancy with maternal serum levels rising in relation to the growth of the fetus and placenta. Maximum levels are reached near term, typically to 5–7 mg/ml. Higher levels are noted in patients with multiple gestation. Little HPL enters the fetal circulation.


In a bioassay HPL mimics the action of prolactin, yet it is unclear if HPL has any role in human lactation.

HPL affects the metabolic system of the maternal organism. HPL decreases maternal insulin sensitivity, and therefore raises maternal blood glucose levels, whilst decreasing maternal glucose utilization, which helps ensure adequate fetal nutrition (the mother responds by pancreatic endocrine upregulation; this is thought to represent an evolutionary 'arms-race' resulting from the conflict of interest between mother and fetus). Chronic hypoglycemia leads to a rise in HPL. HPL induces lipolysis with the release of free fatty acids. With fasting and release of HPL, free fatty acids become available for the maternal organism as fuel, so that relatively more glucose can be utilized by the fetus. Also, ketones formed from free fatty acids can cross the placenta and be used by the fetus. These functions help support fetal nutrition even in the case of maternal malnutrition.

This hormone has weak actions similar to those of growth hormone, causing the formation of protein tissues in the same way that growth hormone, but 100 times more HPL than growth hormone is required to promote growth. .[2]

Clinical measurement of HPL

While HPL has been used as an indicator of fetal well-being and growth, other fetal monitoring methods have been found to be more reliable. Also, normal pregnancies have been reported with undetectable maternal levels of HPL.


  1. ^ Josimovich JB, Atwood BL, Goss DA. "Luteotrophic, Immunologic and Electrophoretic Properties of Human Placental Lactogen.". Endocrinology (1963) Vol. 73, No. 4 410-420.  
  2. ^ Guyton and hall (2005) (in en). Textbook of Medical Physiology (11 ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders. pp. 1033. ISBN 81-8147-920-3. "This hormone has weak actions similar to those of growth hormone, causing the formation of protein tissues in the same way that growth hormone."  
  • Speroff L, Glass RH, Kase NG. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. Sixth edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD 1999. ISNB 0-683-30379-1.

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