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Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2004 Dec;31(4):963-79, xii.

Endocrinology of lactation.

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  • 1Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The endocrine control of lactation is one of the most complex physiologic mechanisms of human parturition. Mammogenesis, lactogenesis, galactopoiesis, and galactokinesis are all essential to assure proper lactation. Prolactin is the key hormone of lactation and seems to be the single most important galactopoietic hormone. Oxytocin, serotonin, opioids, histamine, substance P, and arginine-leucine modulate prolactin release by means of an autocrine/paracrine mechanism, whereas estrogen and progesterone hormones can act at the hypothalamic and adenohypophysial levels. Human placental lactogen and growth factors play an essential role to assure successful lactation during pregnancy. Oxytocin is the most powerful galactokinetic hormone.

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