Increased levels and pulsatility of follicle-stimulating hormone in mothers of hereditary dizygotic twins

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Feb;83(2):481-6. doi: 10.1210/jcem.83.2.4552.


According to the endocrine model of hereditary dizygotic twinning, high FSH is responsible for multiple ovulation and pregnancy. Our study explored the underlying neuroendocrine causes. In a prospective clinical study, we compared the third day of menses parameters of episodic secretion of LH and FSH, the pituitary response to LHRH, plasma estradiol, and dimeric inhibin A and B in 16 regularly menstruating and 9 postmenopausal mothers of dizygotic twins with a family history of twinning and 14 premenopausal and 9 postmenopausal controls. Seven of 16 premenopausal mothers of twins had abnormally high FSH levels of more than 10 IU/L compared with 1/14 in controls (P = 0.024). In the premenopausal mothers of twins, mean FSH concentrations (P = 0.025) and FSH pulse frequency (P = 0.003) were significantly elevated, whereas FSH pulse amplitude and FSH response to LHRH were unaltered. For LH, neither the secretory parameters nor the response to LHRH was different. There were no differences between estradiol and inhibin A and B levels. Postmenopausal mothers of twin and controls did not differ with respect to the secretory pattern of LH and FSH. We conclude that under equal ovarian feedback conditions, premenopausal mothers of a dizygotic twin have hyper stimulation by endogenous FSH caused by neuroendocrine, hypothalamic, or pituitary mechanisms. This is the result of altered responsiveness to ovarian feedback and/or pituitary or suprapituitary, non-LHRH-like mechanisms that stimulate pulsatile FSH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dimerization
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / metabolism*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Humans
  • Inhibins / blood
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology
  • Ovary / physiology
  • Periodicity
  • Pituitary Gland / physiology
  • Premenopause
  • Prospective Studies
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics*


  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Estradiol
  • Inhibins
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone