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Analyte: Prolactin

Specimen Type: For information on this assay, please contact PBI.

Biological or Clinical Significance:

Prolactin is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and controlled by the hypothalamus. It is structurally related to growth hormone (GH), but has few, if any, of the physiological effects of GH. The major chemical controlling prolactin secretion is dopamine, which inhibits prolactin secretion from the pituitary.

The only definitively known physiological function of prolactin is the stimulation of milk production. Pathologic causes of hyperprolactinemia include prolactin-secreting pituitary adenoma (prolactinoma, which is 5 times more frequent in females than males), functional and organic disease of the hypothalamus, primary hypothyroidism, section compression of the pituitary stalk, chest wall lesions, renal failure, and ectopic tumors.

Prolactin is useful for aiding in evaluation of pituitary tumors, amenorrhea, galactorrhea, infertility, and hypogonadism and monitoring therapy of prolactin-producing tumors. When a person has a condition or is taking medications that may affect dopamine production, prolactin concentrations may sometimes be monitored.

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