The prolactin hormone (PRL) is often secreted by lactotrophic cells of the anterior pituitary and has been shown to play a role in various biological processes, including breast feeding and reproduction. The predominant form of this hormone is the 23 kDa form and acts through its receptor (PRLR) on the cell membrane. This receptor is a member of the superfamily of hematopoietic/cytokine receptors. PRL also has a 16 kDa subunit with anti-angiogenic, proapoptotic, and anti-inflammatory effects which is produced by the proteolytic breakdown of this hormone under oxidative stress. Although the common side effects of hyperprolactinemia are exerted on the reproductive system, new studies have shown that hyperprolactinemia has a wide variety of effects, including playing a role in the development of autoimmune diseases and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, peripartum cardiomyopathy, and diabetes among others. The range of PRL functions is increasing with the discovery of multiple sites of PRL secretion as well as PRLR expression in various tissues. This review summarizes current knowledge of the biology of PRL and its receptor, as well as the role of PRL in human pathophysiology.
- Pituitary Gland
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