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Neuroendocrinology. 1990 Jan;51(1):31-7.

Prolactin circadian rhythm persists throughout lactation in women.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Rutgers State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick.

Abstract

To determine whether the prolactin (PRL) circadian rhythm, with its characteristic nocturnal rise, persists during the hyperprolactinemia of lactation, PRL levels were analyzed in blood samples collected hourly for 24 h from 20 mothers, 4-46 months postpartum. The circadian rhythm of PRL persisted throughout lactation as manifested by: (1) significantly higher mean nighttime than daytime PRL levels in the whole sample, despite higher daytime nursing durations; (2) the distribution of zenith levels which most frequently occur between 23.00 and 07.00 h, when nursing duration is lowest, and which are almost absent between 07.00 and 23.00 h, when nursing duration is highest, and of nadir levels, which have an opposite pattern; (3) spontaneous PRL surges that are more frequent, longer, and of higher magnitude at night than during the day, and (4) the larger magnitude of suckling-induced PRL release from late afternoon through the night compared to the morning in some women. Our data suggest that the mechanisms responsible for the circadian rhythm in PRL secretion are relatively independent of the mechanisms of suckling-induced release. We propose that the nocturnal rise in PRL during lactation functions to ensure a robust milk supply during an extensive nonsuckling interval.

PMID:
2106085
DOI:
10.1159/000125312
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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