Prolactin, dendritic cells, and systemic lupus erythematosus

Autoimmun Rev. 2008 Jan;7(3):251-5. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2007.11.018. Epub 2007 Dec 3.


Dendritic cells (DC) play a central role in the induction of autoimmunity in T and B cells. DC express a high level of the major histocompatibility complex that interact with the receptors on T cells. Immature DC present antigens efficiently. Prolactin (PRL) participates in DC maturation. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is characterized by a loss of tolerance to self-antigens and persistent production of autoantibodies. Serum from SLE patients induces normal monocytes to differentiate into DC in correlation with disease activity depending on the actions of interferon-alpha, immune complexes, PRL, etc. High serum PRL levels have been found in a subset of SLE patients associated with active disease and organ involvement. It is possible that PRL interacts with DC, skewing its function from antigen presentation to a proinflammatory phenotype with high interferon-alpha production. Therefore, SLE is characterized by deficiency of DC functions and abnormal PRL secretion. The relationships between PRL and DC may have a role in the pathogenesis of SLE.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Prolactin / metabolism*


  • Interferon-alpha
  • Prolactin