Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone, mainly secreted by lactotroph cells of the anterior pituitary gland. Recent studies have shown it may also be produced by many extrapituitary cells. Its well-recognized PRL plays an important role in lactation during pregnancy, but it is involved in other biological functions such as angiogenesis, immunoregulation and osmoregulation. Hyperprolactinemia is a typical condition producing reproductive dysfunction in both sexes, resulting in hypogonadism, infertility and galactorrhea. It may be also asymptomatic. Lactotroph adenomas (prolactinoma) is one of the most common cause of PRL excess, representing approximately 40% of all pituitary tumors. Several other conditions should be excluded before a clear diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia is made. Hyperprolactinemia may be secondary to pharmacological or pathological interruption of hypothalamic-pituitary dopaminergic pathways or idiopathic. Stress, renal failure or hypothyroidism are other frequent conditions to exclude in patients with hyperprolactinemia. We will review biochemical characteristics and physiological functions of that hormone. Clinical and pharmacological approach to hyperprolactinemia will also be discussed.
- dopamine agonist