Prolactin Most Popular

The Prolactin test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

During pregnancy and postpartum lactation, serum prolactin can increase 10- to 20-fold. Exercise, stress, and sleep also cause transient increases in prolactin levels. Consistently elevated serum prolactin levels (>30 ng/mL), in the absence of pregnancy and postpartum lactation, are indicative of hyperprolactinemia. Hypersecretion of prolactin can be caused by pituitary adenomas, hypothalamic disease, breast or chest wall stimulation, renal failure or hypothyroidism. A number of drugs, including many antidepressants, are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels. Hyperprolactinemia often results in galactorrhea, amenorrhea, and infertility in females, and in impotence and hypogonadism in males. Renal failure, hypothyroidism, and prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels.

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Also known as: PRL

Prolactin

Prolactin is a hormone produced by the anterior portion of the pituitary gland, a grape-sized organ found at the base of the brain. Prolactin secretion is regulated and inhibited by the brain chemical dopamine. Normally present in low amounts in men and non-pregnant women, prolactin's primary role is to promote lactation (breast milk production). Prolactin levels are usually high throughout pregnancy and just after childbirth. During pregnancy, the hormones prolactin, estrogen, and progesterone stimulate breast milk development. Following childbirth, prolactin helps initiate and maintain the breast milk supply. If a woman does not breastfeed, her prolactin level soon drops back to pre-pregnancy levels. If she does nurse, suckling by the infant plays an important role in the release of prolactin. There is a feedback mechanism between how often the baby nurses and the amount of prolactin secreted by the pituitary as well as the amount of milk produced. Another common cause of elevated prolactin levels is a prolactinoma, a prolactin-producing tumor of the pituitary gland. Prolactinomas are the most common type of pituitary tumor and are usually benign. They develop more frequently in women but are also found in men. Problems resulting from them can arise both from the unintended effects of excess prolactin, such as milk production in the non-pregnant woman (and rarely, man) and from the size and location of the tumor. If the anterior pituitary gland and/or the tumor enlarge significantly, it can put pressure on the optic nerve, causing headaches and visual disturbances, and it can interfere with the other hormones that the pituitary gland produces. In women, prolactinomas can cause infertility and irregularities in menstruation; in men, these tumors can cause a gradual loss in sexual function and libido. If left untreated, prolactinomas may eventually damage the tissues around them.
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