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Pituitary. 2009;12(2):96-104. doi: 10.1007/s11102-008-0097-3.

The effects of hyperprolactinemia on bone and fat.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA, 52242, USA.


Many patients with prolactin secreting pituitary tumors have decreased bone mineral. The bone loss is associated with an increase in bone resorption and is secondary to prolactin-induced hypogonadism. In both sexes trabecular bone in the spine and hip is more affected than cortical bone in the distal radius. Normalization of prolactin and restoration of gonadal function increases bone density but is not associated with normalization of bone mass. It is not known whether the bone loss in hyperprolactinemic subjects represents a failure to achieve peak bone mass or is due to accelerated bone loss. Despite low bone density hyperprolactinemic subjects do not demonstrate increased fractures. The association between prolactin, weight gain and obesity suggests that prolactin may also be a modulator of body composition and body weight. It is not known whether hyperprolactinemia associated weight gain is due to stimulation of lipogenesis or due to disruption of central nervous system dopaminergic tone. Hyperprolactinemia is also associated with insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction which may improve after normalization of prolactin. The clinical significance of these findings and the precise role of prolactin in regulation of weight and metabolism remain to be elucidated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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