Maternal serum Down syndrome screening: free beta-protein is a more effective marker than human chorionic gonadotropin

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1990 Oct;163(4 Pt 1):1248-53. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(90)90700-h.


The use of quantitative human chorionic gonadotropin measurement in obstetrics has a long and successful history. Prior studies on the utility of human chorionic gonadotropin in Down syndrome screening have utilized assays that measure the intact human chorionic gonadotropin molecule. This study targeted a distinct marker, the human chorionic gonadotropin free beta-protein, which is present in second-trimester maternal serum at much lower concentrations than is intact human chorionic gonadotropin. Our study of 29 cases of trisomy 21 and 450 control samples shows 80% detection efficiency with maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein, the free beta-protein, and maternal age in pregnancies under 17 weeks' gestation. We conclude that the combination of maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein and the human chorionic gonadotropin free beta-protein will be useful in the prenatal detection of trisomy 21.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / blood*
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin, beta Subunit, Human
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Down Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Peptide Fragments / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin, beta Subunit, Human
  • Peptide Fragments
  • alpha-Fetoproteins