Pharmacogenetics of D2 dopamine receptor gene in prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas

Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2010 Jan;6(1):43-53. doi: 10.1517/17425250903352501.


Importance of the field: Dopamine-agonists are the treatment of choice of prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas (PRL-omas). Their actions on D2 dopamine receptor (DRD2) and the clinical outcome may be affected by polymorphisms.

Areas covered in this review: PRL-omas are well-differentiated endocrine tumors expressing DRD2. The dopamine-agonist cabergoline (CB), normalizes prolactin and reduces tumor size in about 80 - 90% of patients. DRD2 polymorphisms correlate with neuropsychiatric disorders, in particular alcoholism and schizophrenia. This review describes the DRD2 polymorphisms, their functional effects, and their impact on susceptibility and response to dopamine-agonists treatment. Searching PubMed database for pertinent articles we found that some DRD2 polymorphisms, particularly TaqIA, TaqIB and NcoI, are associated with different receptor binding in brain areas. One study carried out in patients with PRL-omas found a correlation between NcoI and TaqIA and resistance to CB. In particular, resistant patients had higher prevalence of NcoI-T allele than the responsive patients, while the commonest haplotype (having TaqIA2 allele) was associated with better response.

What the reader will gain: This review deals with the connection between DRD2 polymorphisms and PRL-oma treatment and suggests hypotheses for further studies.

Take home message: Only one study was carried out to analyze the role of DRD2 polymorphisms in PRLomas response to CB. Further studies, including pituitary and hypothalamus in vivo determination of DRD2 binding according to DRD2 genotypes, investigation of possible post-receptorial mechanisms involved, as well as population studies in collaboration with psychiatrists and neurologists, are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dopamine Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Prolactinoma / drug therapy*
  • Prolactinoma / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2