Secretion of prolactin and growth hormone in relation to ovarian activity in the dog

Reprod Domest Anim. 2001 Aug;36(3-4):115-9.


In pregnant bitches an apparent increase in plasma prolactin concentrations is observed during the second half of pregnancy, mean plasma prolactin concentrations peak on the day of parturition, fall for the next 24-48 h and then rise again. During lactation, high plasma prolactin concentrations are observed. Plasma prolactin levels in non-pregnant bitches appear to be lower than in pregnant animals, particularly in the last part of the luteal phase. Pulsatile secretion of prolactin has been observed during the luteal phase and mid-anoestrus. Progression of the luteal phase is found to be associated with an increase in prolactin release. The association of a strong increase of prolactin release and a decrease of plasma progesterone concentrations has also been demonstrated in overtly pseudopregnant bitches. Elevated prolactin secretion during progression of the luteal phase in the bitch may play a role in mammogenesis and is important because of the luteotrophic action of prolactin. Acromegaly is a syndrome of tissue overgrowth and insulin resistance due to excessive growth hormone (GH) production. In the bitch, acromegaly can be induced either by endogenous progesterone or by exogenous progestagens. Progestagen-induced GH production in this species originates from foci of hyperplastic ductular epithelium of the mammary gland. Pulsatile secretion of GH has been observed in normal cyclic bitches. In contrast with the pulsatile GH secretion seen in healthy dogs, the progestagen-induced plasma GH levels in bitches with acromegaly do not have a pulsatile secretion pattern. Just as with prolactin, the plasma progesterone levels influence the secretion pattern of GH in the bitch. The pulsatile secretion pattern of GH changes during the progression of the luteal phase in healthy cyclic bitches, with higher basal GH secretion and less GH being secreted in pulses during the first part of the luteal phase. The progesterone-induced GH production may promote the proliferation and differentiation of mammary gland tissue during the luteal phase of the bitch by local autocrine/paracrine effects and may exert endocrine effects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acromegaly / etiology
  • Acromegaly / veterinary
  • Anestrus / blood
  • Anestrus / physiology
  • Animals
  • Dogs / blood
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Lactation / blood
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Luteal Phase / blood
  • Luteal Phase / physiology*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism
  • Ovary / physiology*
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal / blood
  • Pregnancy, Animal / physiology*
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Progesterone / physiology
  • Progestins / blood
  • Progestins / pharmacology
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Prolactin / metabolism*
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Secretory Rate


  • Progestins
  • Progesterone
  • Prolactin
  • Growth Hormone