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J Physiol Pharmacol. 2012 Oct;63(5):435-43.

Prolactin--not only lactotrophin. A "new" view of the "old" hormone.

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Department of Internal and Agricultural Medicine and Institute of Pharmacology, Jagiellonian University School of Medicine, Cracow, Poland.


Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone mainly secreted by the anterior pituitary. Recent studies have shown that it may also be produced by many extrapituitary cells. The PRL gene expression is controlled by two independent promoter regions, which may be differentially regulated in the pituitary and extrapituitary organs. Proteolytic modifications of PRL generate variants of the hormone. A16 kDa PRL fragment, acting through a specific receptor, has both an antiangiogenic activity as well as an inhibitory effect on tumor growth. Stimulation of the PRL receptor involves many signal transduction pathways, for example JAK2/STAT, MAPK, c-src and Fyn kinase cascade, and these pathways may vary in different tissues. PRL synthesis and secretion is mainly regulated by the inhibitory influence of dopamine but other hormones are also involved in these mechanisms. The essential biological action of PRL is the stimulation of lactogenesis and galactopoesis. Apart from its classical functions, PRL affects other aspects of human body function including osmoregulation, metabolism and regulation of the immune and the central nervous system. Hyperprolactinemia is a common syndrome affecting both men and women. It is manifested by the presence of galactorrhoea and through the symptoms of hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism. Following on from the fact that PRL has so many pleiotropic tissue specific effects it is not surprising to learn that hyperprolactinaemia is a systemic condition which may predispose to numerous cardiovascular and immune-mediated reactions. The exact effects of PRL on both immune and cardiovascular systems are being currently unraveled and may lead to the introduction of novel therapeutic approaches in the future.

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