Association between Serum Prolactin Levels and Neurodegenerative Diseases: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Neuroimmunomodulation. 2021 Oct 20;1-12. doi: 10.1159/000519552. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Prolactin (PRL) exerts inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties and is also thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases (NDs). However, serum PRL levels in patients with NDs were inconsistent in the research literature.

Objective: We aimed to assess the serum PRL levels in patients with NDs.

Methods: Electronic databases, including MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library database,, Web of Science, and Google Scholar, and reference lists of articles were searched up to December 31, 2020. Pooled standard mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated by fixed-effect or random-effect model analysis.

Results: A total of 36 comparisons out of 29 studies (3 RCTs and 26 case controls) focusing on NDs (including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease [HD], multiple sclerosis [MS], and epilepsy) were reported. The meta-analysis showed that there was no statistically significant difference in serum PRL levels between patients with NDs and healthy controls (SMD = 0.40, 95% CI: -0.16 to 0.96, p = 0.16). Subgroup analysis showed that serum PRL levels in patients with HD and MS were higher than those of healthy controls. Furthermore, patients with NDs aged <45 years had higher serum PRL levels (SMD = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.16-1.78, p = 0.018) than healthy controls. High serum PRL levels were found in subgroups such as the microenzymatic method, Asia, and the Americas.

Conclusions: Our meta-analysis showed serum PRL levels in patients with HD and MS were significantly higher than those in healthy controls. Serum PRL levels were associated with age, region, and detection method. Other larger sample studies using more uniform detection methods are necessary to confirm our results.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Huntington disease; Multiple sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; Prolactin.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis