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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Lack of prolactin receptor signaling in mice results in lactotroph proliferation and prolactinomas by dopamine-dependent and -independent mechanisms.

Hypothalamic dopamine inhibits pituitary prolactin secretion and proliferation of prolactin-producing lactotroph cells by activating lactotroph dopamine D2 receptors (D2Rs). Conversely, prolactin (PRL) stimulates hypothalamic dopamine neurons via PRL receptors (PRLRs) in a short-loop feedback circuit. We used Drd2(-/-) and Prlr(-/-) mutant mice to bypass this feedback and investigate possible dopamine-independent effects of PRL on lactotroph function. The absence of either receptor induced hyperprolactinemia and large prolactinomas in females. Small macroadenomas developed in aged Prlr(-/-) males, but only microscopic adenomas were found in Drd2(-/-) male mice. Pharmacologic studies in Prlr(-/-) mice with D2R agonists and antagonists demonstrated a significant loss of endogenous dopamine tone, i.e., constitutive inhibitory signaling by the D2R, in the pituitary. However, Prlr(-/-) mice exhibited more profound hyperprolactinemia and larger tumors than did age-matched Drd2(-/-) mice, and there were additive effects in compound homozygous mutant male mice. In vitro, PRL treatment markedly inhibited the proliferation of wild-type female and male Drd2(-/-) lactotrophs, but had no effect on female Drd2(-/-) lactotrophs, suggesting a downregulation or desensitization of PRLR in response to chronic hyperprolactinemia. We conclude that PRL inhibits lactotrophs by two distinct mechanisms: (a) indirectly by activation of hypothalamic dopamine neurons and (b) directly within the pituitary in a dopamine-independent fashion.[1]


  1. Lack of prolactin receptor signaling in mice results in lactotroph proliferation and prolactinomas by dopamine-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Schuff, K.G., Hentges, S.T., Kelly, M.A., Binart, N., Kelly, P.A., Iuvone, P.M., Asa, S.L., Low, M.J. J. Clin. Invest. (2002) [Pubmed]
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