Dopamine affects basal and augmented pituitary hormone secretion

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1978 Sep;47(3):480-7. doi: 10.1210/jcem-47-3-480.


Although the role of the neurotransmitter, dopamine (DA), in the regulation of PRL has been well documented, controversy exists regarding its participation in the regulation of the other pituitary hormones. Consequently, we infused DA into six healthy male subjects (ages 19-32) and studied its effects on both basal pituitary hormone levels and augmented hormonal release induced by insulin hypoglycemia (ITT), TRH, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). DA alone produced a modest though significant increase in GH concentration from 2.2 +/- 0.5 to 11.9 +/- 3.7 ng/ml (P less than 0.05) by 60 min, but the peak incremental GH response to ITT was significantly inhibited by DA (43.5 +/- 5.0 vs. 16.3 +/- 3.3 ng/ml; P less than 0.01). PRL concentrations fell during the DA infusion (20.4 +/- 3.0 to 10.6 +/- 1.5 ng/ml; P less than 0.02) at 235 min, and the PRL responses to both ITT and TRH were completely abolished. Although the basal LH and FSH concentrations were unaffected by DA, the incremental LH response to GnRH was inhibited (45.5 +/- 10.6 to 24.4 +/- 5.4 mIU/ml; P less than 0.05), while the FSH response was unchanged. DA significantly reduced the basal TSH concentration from 3.9 +/- 0.2 to 2.5 +/- 0.2 micro U/ml (P less than 0.01) at 230 min and blunted the peak incremental TSH response to TRH (6.0 +/- 1.5 vs. 2.9 +/- 0.9 microU/ml; P less than 0.01). DA had no effect on basal cortisol levels, the cortisol response to ITT, basal plasma glucose, or the degree of hypoglycemia after ITT. Our data provide new evidence that DA has an inhibitory as well as a stimulatory role in the regulation of GH secretion in normal humans. It inhibits centrally as well as peripherally mediated PRL secretion and blunts the LH response to GnRH. In addition, DA lowers both basal and TRH-mediated TSH release, confirming the reports of other investigators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dopamine*
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / metabolism
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Kinetics
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Pituitary Gland / drug effects
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism*
  • Prolactin / metabolism
  • Thyrotropin / metabolism


  • Insulin
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Thyrotropin
  • Growth Hormone
  • Dopamine