Expression of pro-EPIL peptides encoded by the insulin-like 4 (INSL4) gene in chromosomally abnormal pregnancies

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Oct;85(10):3941-4. doi: 10.1210/jcem.85.10.6925.


The recent development of a specific immunoassay based on monoclonal antibodies directed to chain C and chain A of early placenta insulin-like peptide (EPIL) encoded by the INSL4 gene, has made it possible to demonstrate pro-EPIL peptide expression during normal pregnancy. In the present study, we report on the expression of pro-EPIL peptides in chromosomally abnormal pregnancies, namely trisomy 21 and 18. EPIL peptide levels were measured in amniotic fluid (AF) and maternal serum (MS) from pregnancies with trisomy 21 (n=16) or 18 (n=14) and compared to levels detected in AF and MS from 33 chromosomally normal pregnancies between 12 and 32 weeks of gestation. Pro-EPIL peptide levels were significantly higher in amniotic fluids from T21 than in AF from chromosomally normal pregnancies (mean pro-EPIL levels +/- SEM, 449+/-129.2 ng/mL vs 137+/-29.6 ng/mL, P = 0.0195), whereas there was only a trend towards an increase in pro-EPIL peptide levels in maternal serum. In a limited matched gestational age range (15 to 17 weeks), it was confirmed that pro-EPIL peptide levels were significantly higher in AF from T21 pregnancies (644.0+/-155.9 ng/mL, n = 11) than in AF from normal pregnancies (177.8+/-39.0 ng/mL, n = 12; P < 0.0001). Interestingly, the expression patterns of pro-EPIL peptides, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and its free subunits were parallel in T21 pregnancies as recently observed in normal pregnancies. These results are in line with previous observations suggesting that the biosynthesis of both hCG and EPIL follows common regulation pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amniotic Fluid / chemistry
  • Biomarkers
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / biosynthesis
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / genetics
  • Chromosome Aberrations / genetics*
  • Chromosome Aberrations / metabolism*
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18 / genetics
  • Down Syndrome / genetics
  • Down Syndrome / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Gestational Age
  • Growth Substances*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Pregnancy Proteins / genetics*
  • Trisomy / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Growth Substances
  • INSL4 protein, human
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Pregnancy Proteins