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Life Sci. 1990;46(20):1407-20.

The physiology and mechanisms of the stress-induced changes in prolactin secretion in the rat.

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Department of Physiology, Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Detroit 48201.


It is well known that stress in a number of forms induces the secretion of prolactin (PRL) in a number of species. What is not well known is that under certain conditions stress will also induce a decrease in PRL secretion. The conditions whereby stress decreases PRL are those where PRL secretion is elevated such as during the proestrous afternoon surge and during the nocturnal surge of pseudopregnancy. The physiologic significance of the stress-induced increase of PRL is suggested to be important in maintaining the competence of the immune system. The significance of the stress-induced decrease of PRL does not appear to have a major consequence on the physiology of reproduction in the rat and it is suggested that future studies be directed towards its significance in the immune system. The literature is reviewed dealing with the regulation of PRL secretion with emphasis on the factors that generate PRL surges in the rat. In addition the mechanism(s) of the stress-induced increase and decrease is (are) also examined. A hypothesis is presented suggesting an interaction between tuberoinfundibular dopamine secretion and a hypothalamic prolactin releasing factor in the generation of PRL surges and the differential effects of stress on PRL secretion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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