Gestational trophoblastic diseases: 3. Human chorionic gonadotropin-free beta-subunit, a reliable marker of placental site trophoblastic tumors.
, Khanlian SA
, Muller CY
, Giddings A
, Kohorn E
, Berkowitz R
USA hCG Reference Service, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA. email@example.com
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OBJECTIVES: Placental site trophoblastic tumor (PSTT) commonly presents with low and variable concentration of hCG immunoreactivity in serum which can be difficult to differentiate from early stage choriocarcinoma/gestational trophoblastic neoplasm (GTN) or quiescent gestational trophoblastic disease (quiescent GTD). Nontrophoblastic malignancies such as germ cell tumors or other tumors secreting low hCG must also be considered in the differential diagnosis. Because treatments for these conditions are different, a means of differentiating PSTT from other diagnoses is important. We investigate the usefulness of hCG-free beta-subunit to make this discrimination. METHODS: Data collected on cases referred to the USA hCG Reference Service for consultation served as a basis for this retrospective analysis. There were 13 cases with histology proven PSTT and 12 with nontrophoblastic malignancy. hCG-free beta-subunit was measured by immunoassay and reported as a proportion of total hCG (hCG-free beta-subunit(%)). hCG-free beta-subunit(%) results were determined for all histologically proven cases of PSTT and for the nontrophoblastic malignancies. Comparisons of hCG-free beta-subunit(%) were made and compared with those of the 82 choriocarcinoma/GTN cases and 69 quiescent GTD cases. The accuracy of hCG-free beta-subunit(%) to discriminate these malignancies was analyzed by investigating the areas under receiver-operating characteristics curve +/- standard error. RESULTS: hCG-free beta-subunit(%) was the predominant hCG form in cases of PSTT (mean +/- standard deviation, 60 +/- 19%) and nontrophoblastic malignancies (91 +/- 11%), thus discriminating these diagnoses from choriocarcinoma/GTN (9.3 +/- 9.2%) and from quiescent GTD (5.4 +/- 7.8%). The cutoff of >35% free beta-subunit is proposed. At this cutoff, 100% detection at 0% false-positive is achieved. The accuracy of hCG-free beta-subunit(%) for this discrimination is 100 +/- 0%. At a proposed cutoff of >80%, the free beta-subunit test will also distinguish PSTT from nontrophoblastic malignancy, with 77% detection at 23% false-positive or an accuracy of 92 +/- 3.2%. CONCLUSION: Measurement of the proportion hCG-free beta-subunit(%) was found to be useful in the diagnosis of PSTT using proposed cutoff values of >35% and >80%. While this finding needs to be confirmed by larger studies, it would be reasonable to measure hCG-free beta-subunit(%) whenever the diagnosis of PSTT is considered.
PMID: 16631918 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]