Patterns of prolactin secretion

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2020 Feb 15;502:110679. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2019.110679. Epub 2019 Dec 13.


Prolactin is pleotropic in nature affecting multiple tissues throughout the body. As a consequence of the broad range of functions, regulation of anterior pituitary prolactin secretion is complex and atypical as compared to other pituitary hormones. Many studies have provided insight into the complex hypothalamic-pituitary networks controlling prolactin secretion patterns in different species using a range of techniques. Here, we review prolactin secretion in both males and females; and consider the different patterns of prolactin secretion across the reproductive cycle in representative female mammals with short versus long luteal phases and in seasonal breeders. Additionally, we highlight changes in the pattern of secretion during pregnancy and lactation, and discuss the wide range of adaptive functions that prolactin may have in these important physiological states.

Keywords: Lactation; Pregnancy; Prolactin; Prolactin receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Luteal Phase*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolactin / metabolism*


  • Prolactin