Hyperprolactinemia and autoimmune diseases

Autoimmun Rev. 2007 Sep;6(8):537-42. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2006.10.005. Epub 2006 Dec 1.


The autoimmune diseases are more common in females. The sex hormones have an important role in this gender bias, mainly estrogen and prolactin (PRL) which modulate the immune response. PRL is secreted from the pituitary gland and other organs and cells mainly the lymphocytes. PRL has an immunostimulatory effect and promotes autoimmunity: PRL impairs the negative selection of autoreactive B lymphocytes occurring during B cell maturation into fully functional B cells. PRL has an anti-apoptotic effect, enhances proliferative response to antigens and mitogens and enhances the production of immunoglobulins and autoantibodies. Hyperprolactinemia (HPRL) is observed in multi-organ and organ specific autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjogren's syndrome (SS), Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) and multiple sclerosis (MS). There is no consistent correlation between PRL levels and disease activity. Murine models and small studies in SLE patients suggest some role of dopamine agonists in the therapy of those diseases. The genetic factor may have a role in humans as in animal models. The PRL isoform has an important effect on the bioactivity on prolactin receptors (PRL-Rs).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / blood*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperprolactinemia / genetics
  • Hyperprolactinemia / immunology*