|Luteinizing hormone beta polypeptide|
|Locus||Chr. 19 q13.3|
Luteinizing hormone (LH, also known as lutropin  and sometimes lutrophin ) is a hormone produced by gonadotroph cells in the anterior pituitary gland. In females, an acute rise of LH ("LH surge") triggers ovulation and development of the corpus luteum. In males, where LH had also been called interstitial cell-stimulating hormone (ICSH), it stimulates Leydig cell production of testosterone. It acts synergistically with FSH.
Its structure is similar to that of the other glycoprotein hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The protein dimer contains 2 glycopeptidic subunits, labeled alpha and beta subunits, that are non-covalently associated (i.e., without any disulfide bridge linking them):
- The alpha subunits of LH, FSH, TSH, and hCG are identical, and contain 92 amino acids in human but 96 amino acids in almost all other vertebrate species (glycoprotein hormones do not exist in invertebrates).
- The beta subunits vary. LH has a beta subunit of 120 amino acids (LHB) that confers its specific biologic action and is responsible for the specificity of the interaction with the LH receptor. This beta subunit contains an amino acid sequence that exhibits large homologies with that of the beta subunit of hCG and both stimulate the same receptor. However, the hCG beta subunit contains an additional 24 amino acids, and the two hormones differ in the composition of their sugar moieties.
The different composition of these oligosaccharides affects bioactivity and speed of degradation. The biologic half-life of LH is 20 minutes, shorter than that of FSH (3–4 hours) and hCG (24 hours).
The luteinizing hormone beta subunit gene is localized in the LHB/CGB gene cluster on chromosome 19q13.32. In contrast to the alpha gene activity, beta LH subunit gene activity is restricted to the pituitary gonadotropic cells. It is regulated by the gonadotropin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus. Inhibin, activin, and sex hormones do not affect genetic activity for the beta subunit production of LH.
In both males and females, LH is essential for reproduction.
- In females, LH supports theca cells in the ovaries that provide androgens and hormonal precursors for estradiol production. At the time of menstruation, FSH initiates follicular growth, specifically affecting granulosa cells. With the rise in estrogens, LH receptors are also expressed on the maturing follicle, which causes it to produce more estradiol. Eventually, when the follicle has fully matured, a spike in 17-hydroxyprogesterone production by the follicle inhibits the production of estrogen, leading to a decrease in estrogen-mediated negative feedback of GnRH in the hypothalamus, which then stimulates the release of LH from the anterior pituitary. This increase in LH production only lasts for 24 to 48 hours. This "LH surge" triggers ovulation, thereby not only releasing the egg from the follicle, but also initiating the conversion of the residual follicle into a corpus luteum that, in turn, produces progesterone to prepare the endometrium for a possible implantation. LH is necessary to maintain luteal function for the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle. If pregnancy occurs, LH levels will decrease, and luteal function will instead be maintained by the action of hCG (a hormone very similar to LH but secreted from the new placenta).
- In the male, LH acts upon the Leydig cells of the testis and is responsible for the production of testosterone, an androgen that exerts both endocrine activity and intratesticular activity on spermatogenesis.
The release of LH at the pituitary gland is controlled by pulses of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus. Those pulses, in turn, are subject to the estrogen feedback from the gonads.
Normal levels 
LH levels are normally low during childhood and, in women, high after menopause. As LH is secreted as pulses, it is necessary to follow its concentration over a sufficient period of time to get a proper information about its blood level.
During the reproductive years, typical levels are between 1-20 IU/L. Physiologic high LH levels are seen during the LH surge (v.s.); typically they last 48 hours.
In males over 18 years of age, reference ranges have been estimated to be 1.8-8.6 IU/L.
Predicting ovulation 
The detection of a surge in release of luteinizing hormone indicates impending ovulation. LH can be detected by urinary ovulation predictor kits (OPK, also LH-kit) that are performed, typically daily, around the time ovulation may be expected. A conversion from a negative to a positive reading would suggest that ovulation is about to occur within 24–48 hours, giving women two days to engage in sexual intercourse or artificial insemination with the intentions of conceiving.
Tests may be read manually using a colour-change paper strip, or digitally with the assistance of reading electronics.
As sperm can stay viable in the woman for several days, LH tests are not recommended for contraceptive practices, as the LH surge typically occurs after the beginning of the fertile window.
Disease states 
Relative elevations 
In children with precocious puberty of pituitary or central origin, LH and FSH levels may be in the reproductive range instead of the low levels typical for their age.
During the reproductive years, relatively elevated LH is frequently seen in patients with the polycystic ovary syndrome; however, it would be unusual for them to have LH levels outside of the normal reproductive range.
High LH levels 
Persistently high LH levels are indicative of situations where the normal restricting feedback from the gonad is absent, leading to a pituitary production of both LH and FSH. While this is typical in the menopause, it is abnormal in the reproductive years. There it may be a sign of:
- Premature menopause
- Gonadal dysgenesis, Turner syndrome
- Swyer syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Certain forms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Testicular failure
- Pregnancy-BetaHCG can mimic LH so tests may show elevated LH
Deficient LH activity 
Diminished secretion of LH can result in failure of gonadal function (hypogonadism). This condition is typically manifest in males as failure in production of normal numbers of sperm. In females, amenorrhea is commonly observed. Conditions with very low LH secretions are:
- Kallmann syndrome
- Hypothalamic suppression
- Eating disorder
- Female athlete triad
- Gonadal suppression therapy
LH is available mixed with FSH in the form of Pergonal, and other forms of urinary gonadotropins . More purified forms of urinary gonadotropins may reduce the LH portion in relation to FSH. Recombinant LH is available as lutropin alfa (Luveris). All these medications have to be given parenterally. They are commonly used in infertility therapy to stimulate follicular development, the notable one being in IVF therapy.
Often, HCG medication is used as an LH substitute because it activates the same receptor. Medically used hCG is derived from urine of pregnant women, is less costly, and has a longer half-life than LH.
- lutropin at eMedicine Dictionary
- "Subunit-specific sulphation of oligosaccharides relating to chargeheterogeneity in porcine lutrophin isoforms". Oxford Journals. 1 February 1992. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
- Physiology at MCG 5/5ch9/s5ch9_5
- Louvet J, Harman S, Ross G (1975). "Effects of human chorionic gonadotropin, human interstitial cell stimulating hormone and human follicle-stimulating hormone on ovarian weights in estrogen-primed hypophysectomized immature female rats". Endocrinology 96 (5): 1179–86. doi:10.1210/endo-96-5-1179. PMID 1122882.
- Bowen, R. (13 May 2004). "Gonadotropins: Luteinizing and Follicle Stimulating Hormones". Colorado State University. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- Mayo Medical Laboratories > Test ID: LH, Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Serum, retrieved December 2012
- Nielsen M, Barton S, Hatasaka H, Stanford J (2001). "Comparison of several one-step home urinary luteinizing hormone detection test kits to OvuQuick". Fertil Steril 76 (2): 384–7. doi:10.1016/S0015-0282(01)01881-7. PMID 11476792.
- "Ovulation Predictor Kit Frequently Asked Questions". Fertility Plus. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "How to Get Pregnant". OPregnancy.com. 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- Luveris information
- FAQs on LH Surge and Ovulation
- Luteinizing Hormone at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)