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Prolactin hormone is responsible for milk secretion after parturition.
What is Prolactin Hormone?
Prolactin is the most vital hormone, which controls reproductive health. This hormone is produced and secreted in the front portion of the pituitary gland present in the brain and is found in both males and females. Other than the pituitary gland, the prolactin hormone is also secreted by immune cells, skin, adipose tissue, breasts, and the uterus.
Prolactin is released by the respective glands when a newborn baby suckles the mother’s breast, causing the production of milk.
The prolactin hormone is mainly involved in differentiating the cells that perform their own specific functions. This is a specialized hormone, which is mainly produced when the body is exposed to high levels of the cortisol hormone for a longer period of time. The prolactin hormone plays a vital role in stimulating the mammary alveoli, which are responsible for producing milk after the baby’s birth.
Refer more: Parturition – Childbirth
Functions of Prolactin Hormone
Prolactin is the only specialized hormone, which promotes lactation in mammals and is responsible for a number of other functions and systems.
Listed below are a few of them:
- It helps in foetal lung development.
- Plays a vital role in controlling osmolality.
- It is involved in the formation of steroid hormones.
- It helps in the initiation and maintenance of lactation.
- It induces ductal growth and lobular alveolar system in the breast.
- It is also involved in the synthesis of milk proteins like casein and lactalbumin.
- It helps in the metabolism of subcutaneous fat, carbohydrate, calcium and Vitamin D.
- In males, these hormones increase the reproductive functions by synergies with other hormones, including LH and testosterone.
How is prolactin controlled?
The hormonal level in both male and female sex remains the same till they attain puberty. The level rises or increases 2 to 3 times during deep sleep and there is a peak in the early morning hours.
|Hormonal level in ng/mL
|New Born baby
|30 to 495 ng/mL
|3.2 to 20 ng/mL
|0 to 20 ng/mL
|0 to 25 ng/mL
|20 to 400 ng/mL
The increased level of prolactin hormone is mainly seen during pregnancy, stress, physical activities, breast stimulation and in nursing mothers. The decreased level of prolactin hormone is mainly because of hypopituitarism. The main disorders caused by the prolactin hormone are hyperprolactinaemia and hypoprolactinaemia
Also Refer: Hormones and Hormonal Disorders
What is hyperprolactinemia?
The condition of having more prolactin circulating in the blood is called hyperprolactinaemia. The causes of hyperprolactinaemia include:
- Benign pituitary tumours.
Symptoms of hyperprolactinemia:
- Sexual side effects.
- Abnormal hair growth.
- Unwanted production of milk.
- Disturbances to the menstrual cycle.
What is hypoprolactinemia?
The condition of having little prolactin circulating in the blood is called hypoprolactinaemia. This condition is very rare and may occur in people with insufficient activity of the pituitary gland and Sheehan’s syndrome.
Reduced secretion of prolactin hormones leads to inadequate milk being produced after giving birth. There are no specific symptoms related with a low level of prolactin hormone. The preliminary evidence suggests that it might cause a reduced immune response to some infections.
The condition of having too little prolactin hormones in males results in oligospermia and visual disturbance.
Prolactin or PRL test
PRL or prolactin test is the pathology test which is mainly used for the diagnosis of the level of prolactin hormone in an individual. The PRL test is also used for diagnosing:
- Pituitary adenoma.
- Hypothalamic disease.
- Hyperprolactinemia disease.
- Monitor the prolactin-producing tumours.
- Causes of infertility in both males and females.
This article concludes the introduction to the Prolactin hormone, its functions, disorders caused by its level of production and its symptoms.