Introduction: The altered profiles of prolactin secretion in the anterior hypophysis, generated by pathological, pharmacological or toxicological causes, have special consequences on multiple functions in both genders.
Areas covered: This selective review presents the main mechanisms controlling prolactin secretion, focusing on the interplay of various neurotransmitters or xenobiotics, but also on the role of psychic or posttraumatic stress. A detailed analysis of several pharmacotherapeutic groups with hyperprolactinemic effects emphasize on the relevance of the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic mechanisms and the clinical significance of the long term administration.
Expert opinion: Accurate monitoring and evaluation of the hyperprolactinemia induced by xenobiotics is strongly recommended. The typical antipsychotics and some of the atypical agents (amisulpride, risperidone, paliperidone), as well as some antidepressants, antihypertensives and prokinetics, are the most important groups inducing hyperprolactinemia. The hyperprolactinemic effects are correlated with their affinity for dopamine D2 receptors, their blood-brain barrier penetration and, implicitly, the requested dose for adequate occupancy of cerebral D2 receptors. Consequently, integration of available pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data supports the idea of therapeutic switch to non-hyperprolactinemic agents (especially aripiprazole) or their association, for an optimal management of antipsychotic-induced hyperprolactinemia. Possible alternative strategies for counteracting the xenobiotics-induced hyperprolactinemia are also mentioned.