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J Neuroendocrinol. 2011 Oct;23(10):883-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2011.02207.x.

Prolactin induces a hyperpolarising current in rat paraventricular oxytocinergic neurones.

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Space Biology Group, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Prolactin and oxytocin are important reproductive hormones implicated in several common adaptive functions during pregnancy, pseudopregnancy and lactation. Recently, extracellular recordings of supraoptic neurones have shown that prolactin may modulate the electrical activity of oxytocinergic neurones. However, no study has been conducted aiming to establish whether prolactin directly influences this activity in oxytocinergic paraventricular neurones. In the present study, we addressed this question by studying the effects of prolactin on the electrical activity and voltage-current relationship of identified paraventricular neurones in rat brain slices. Whole-cell recordings were obtained and neurones were classified on the basis of their morphological and electrophysiological fingerprint (i.e. magnocellular or parvicellular) and neuropeptide phenotype (i.e. oxytocinergic or non-oxytocinergic). We report that prolactin elicited a hyperpolarising current in 37% of the neurones in this nucleus, of which the majority (67%) were identified as putative magnocellular oxytocin neurones and the reminder (33%) were regarded as oxytocin-negative, parvicellular neuroendocrine neurones. Our results suggest that, in addition to the well-established negative feedback loop between prolactin-secreting lactotrophs and dopaminergic neurones in the arcuate nucleus, an inhibitory feedback loop also exists between lactotrophs and oxytocinergic paraventricular neurones.

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