Endocrinology of lactation

Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2004 Dec;31(4):963-79, xii. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2004.08.002.


The endocrine control of lactation is one of the most complex physiologic mechanisms of human parturition. Mammogenesis, lactogenesis, galactopoiesis, and galactokinesis are all essential to assure proper lactation. Prolactin is the key hormone of lactation and seems to be the single most important galactopoietic hormone. Oxytocin, serotonin, opioids, histamine, substance P, and arginine-leucine modulate prolactin release by means of an autocrine/paracrine mechanism, whereas estrogen and progesterone hormones can act at the hypothalamic and adenohypophysial levels. Human placental lactogen and growth factors play an essential role to assure successful lactation during pregnancy. Oxytocin is the most powerful galactokinetic hormone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Mammary Glands, Human / anatomy & histology
  • Mammary Glands, Human / embryology
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism
  • Oxytocin / physiology
  • Placental Lactogen / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolactin / physiology


  • Oxytocin
  • Prolactin
  • Placental Lactogen