Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone of considerable importance in the establishment, promotion and maintenance of human pregnancy. It has been clearly demonstrated that hCG exerts multiple endocrine, paracrine and autocrine actions on a variety of gestational and non-gestational cells and tissues. These actions are directed to promote trophoblast invasiveness and differentiation, placental growth, angiogenesis in uterine vasculature, hormone production, modulation of the immune system at the maternal-fetal interface, inhibition of myometrial contractility as well as fetal growth and differentiation. In recent years, considerable interest has been raised towards the biological effects of environmental contaminants, particularly endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Emerging evidence suggests that prenatal exposure to selected EDCs can have a deleterious impact on the fetus and long-lasting consequences also in adult life. The results of the in vitro effects of commonly found EDCs, particularly Bisphenol A (BPA) and para-Nonylphenol (p-NP), indicate that these substances can alter hCG production and through this action could exert their fetal damage, suggesting that hCG could represent and become a potentially useful clinical biomarker of an inappropriate prenatal exposure to these substances.
Keywords: Bisphenol A; endocrine disrupting chemicals; human placenta; human trophoblast; para-Nonylphenol.