Prolactin: the forgotten hormone of human breast cancer

Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Aug;79(2):169-78. doi: 10.1016/s0163-7258(98)00017-5.


Prolactin (PRL) is both a mitogen and a differentiating agent in the mammary gland. It has been shown to be involved in mammary cancer development in rodents, but in human breast cancer, its role has long been overlooked. Three criteria are applied to demonstrate PRL's involvement in this disease: (1) PRL receptors are present in human breast cancer cells, (2) human breast cancer cells in culture respond to PRL as a mitogen, and (3) PRL is synthesized by human breast cancer cells and inhibition of the binding of PRL to its receptors inhibits cell growth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mitosis / physiology
  • Prolactin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Prolactin / biosynthesis
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Prolactin / physiology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology
  • Receptors, Prolactin / physiology
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Prolactin
  • Tamoxifen
  • Prolactin