Open Access Research article

Association between altered placental human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) production and the occurrence of cryptorchidism: a retrospective study

Carole Chedane1, Hugues Puissant2, Dominique Weil3, Stéphanie Rouleau1 and Régis Coutant1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatric Endocrinology, University Hospital, 4 rue Larrey, 49033 Angers CEDEX 01, France

2 Department of Genetics, University Hospital, Angers, France

3 Department of Pediatric Surgery, University Hospital, Angers, France

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BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:191  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-191

Published: 26 July 2014



An increase in cryptorchidism has been reported in many countries. One mechanism could be low fetal testosterone production possibly secondary to altered placental human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) release. Our Objective was to compare hCG values from maternal blood between boys with cryptorchidism and normal boys.


Total hCG and α-fetoprotein (AFP) values [12–16 weeks of gestation; from the double test for Down syndrome screening) were compared between cases of cryptorchidism and normal control boys who were matched for maternal age, maternal smoking, gestational age at time of hCG measurement (±1 day), birth weight and birth term. Measurements were performed in a single laboratory; values were expressed as absolute values (KU/L) and multiples of the median (MoM). Boys whose mothers had had a complicated pregnancy were excluded. Groups were compared using the Student’s t test. Log transformation was used to normalize hCG, MoM hCG, AFP and MoM AFP distribution, and values were expressed as geometric means (-1, + 1 tolerance factor).


Total hCG and MoM hCG levels were significantly lower in the 51 boys with cryptorchidism compared to 306 controls (21.4 (12.3; 37) KU/L vs 27.7 (15.9; 47.9) KU/L and 0.8 (0.5; 1.2) MoM vs 1.0 (0.6; 1.6) MoM, respectively, p < 0.01). By contrast, AFP and MoM AFP levels were similar between groups.


This study showed a link between low maternal serum hCG levels and cryptorchidism in boys from uncomplicated pregnancy, while normal AFP levels indicated a normal fetoplacental unit. Whether these abnormalities were due to endogenous or exogenous factors remains to be determined.

Cryptorchidism; Males; hCG