Highest concentrations of prorenin and human chorionic gonadotropin in gestational sacs during early human pregnancy

Joseph Itskovitz, Speranza Rubattu, Jacob Levron, Jean E. Sealey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prorenin is not only the biosynthetic precursor of renin; under certain circumstances in vitro prorenin exhibits reversible intrinsic renin activity and can form angiotensin from renin substrate with or without cleavage of the prosequence. Prorenin is the predominant form of renin synthesized by reproductive organs (ovary, chorion laeve of the placenta, uterine decidua). Its plasma concentrations increases 10-fold throughout pregnancy to 10-100 times that of renin; amniotic fluid prorenin concentration is even higher. No data are available of gestational fluid prorenin concentrations during early pregnancy. For the first 10 weeks there are two gestational cavities; the chorionic cavity then disappears and the smaller amniotic cavity becomes predominant. In this study we measured prorenin, renin, renin substrate and hCG in fluid aspirated from gestational sacs during the first trimester of gestation (predominantly chorionic) and during the second and third trimesters (amniotic). Seventeen patients had amniocentesis during the second or third trimester. Nine patients underwent selective abortion of multiple pregnancy at 7-12 weeks gestation. One patient underwent surgery at 5 5/7 weeks (26 days after conception) for a tubal pregnancy. Second and third trimester amniotic fluid prorenin maximum velocity (Vmax) (16 and 3 sacs, respectively) averaged 6,100 ± 1,700 (SD) and 1,930 ± 760 ng/mL.h, respectively (i.e. 1,700 and 540 ng/L.s). In gestational fluid collected before 8 weeks, prorenin Vmax was 10-fold higher, averaging 62,500 ± 40,000 ng/mL.h (17,000 ng/L.s). The concentration was 140,000 ng/mL.h (39,000 ng/L.s) in the 5 5/7 week tubal pregnancy. In sharp contrast, at 10-12 weeks gestation (n = 3) prorenin Vmax was only 260 ± 114 ng/mL.h (72 ng/L.s); human CG was also highest before 8 weeks (276,500 ± 110,900 IU/L) and lowest at 10-12 weeks (1210 ± 540 IU/L) with intermediate levels occurring later in pregnancy. This study shows that the highest biological levels of prorenin yet detected (close to 1 μ protein/mL) occur in gestational sacs in early pregnancy, consistent with a role for the renin-angiotensin system in embryonic development or placentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-910
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992
Externally publishedYes


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