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Research Article

Inhibin: a new circulating marker of hydatidiform mole?

BMJ 1989; 298 doi: (Published 24 June 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;298:1684
  1. T. Yohkaichiya,
  2. T. Fukaya,
  3. H. Hoshiai,
  4. A. Yajima,
  5. D. M. de Kretser
  1. Department of Anatomy, Monash University, Clayton, Australia.


    OBJECTIVE--To define the concentrations of inhibin in serum and tissue of patients with hydatidiform mole and assess their value as a clinical marker of the condition. DESIGN--Prospective study of new patients with hydatidiform mole, comparison of paired observations, and case-control analysis. SETTING--A university hospital, two large public hospitals, and a private women's clinic in Japan. PATIENTS--Seven consecutive referred patients seen over four months with newly diagnosed complete hydatidiform mole, including one in whom the mole was accompanied by viable twin fetuses (case excluded from statistical analysis because of unique clinical features). All patients followed up for six months after evacuation of molar tissue. END POINT--Correlation of serum inhibin concentrations with trophoblastic disease. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Serum concentrations of inhibin, human chorionic gonadotrophin, and follicle stimulating hormone were compared before and seven to 10 days after evacuation of the mole. Before evacuation the serum inhibin concentrations (median 8.3 U/ml; 95% confidence interval 2.4 to 34.5) were significantly greater than in 21 normal women at the same stage of pregnancy (2.8 U/ml; 2.1 to 3.6), and inhibin in molar tissue was also present in high concentrations (578 U/ml cytosol; 158 to 1162). Seven to 10 days after evacuation inhibin concentrations in serum samples from the same patients declined significantly to values (0.4 U/ml; 0.1 to 1.4) similar to those seen in the follicular phase of normal menstrual cycles. None of the four patients whose serum inhibin concentrations were 0.4 U/ml or less after evacuation developed persistent trophoblastic disease. Though serum human chorionic gonadotrophin concentrations declined after evacuation (6.6 x 10(3) IU/l; 0.8 x 10(3) to 32.6 x 10(3], they remained far higher than in non-pregnant women. Serum follicle stimulating hormone concentrations remained suppressed. CONCLUSIONS--In this small study serum inhibin concentrations higher than those found in the early follicular phase one to two weeks after evacuation of a hydatidiform mole seemed to be specific for persistent trophoblastic disease. Further data are needed to confirm these promising results.