56. Hyperprolactinemia

Page created on April 2, 2019. Last updated on May 8, 2024 at 12:02

Prolactin is a hormone produced by the anterior pituitary in pregnancy, sleep, lactation, stress, physical exercise and hypoglycaemia. It stimulates the growth of glandular tissue in the breast and is necessary to produce milk. Prolactin inhibits FSH and LH.

Dopamine usually inhibits the secretion of prolactin. TRH stimulates the production of prolactin.

Pathologically elevated prolactin is called hyperprolactinaemia, and decreased prolactin is called hypoprolactinaemia.


Hyperprolactinaemia is the increased production of prolactin. It’s a relatively rare disorder. Not all cases are patholohical, as it can occur physiologically in case of pregnancy, nipple stimulation, and stress.


Pathological hyperprolactinaemia occurs in:

A prolactinoma is a prolactin-producing pituitary adenoma. Damage to the hypothalamus or infundibulum impairs the dopamine-mediated inhibition of prolactin. TRH stimulates prolactin, and so prolactin may be elevated in severe hypothyroidism. Dopamine antagonist drugs inhibit the dopamine D2 receptor, thereby inhibiting dopamine’s inhibitory effects on prolactin secretion.


As the level of prolactin is pathologically high the synthesis of dopamine is increased to attempt to inhibit prolactin synthesis. This is not sufficient or able to reduce the prolactin level back to normal. As a side effect of the increased dopamine synthesis, dopamine will suppress the production of GnRH, which decreases LH and FSH, which decreases androgen and oestrogen production.

Clinical features

The most common symptoms of hyperprolactinaemia are:


The treatment of choice is dopamine agonists and treating the underlying cause.

2 thoughts on “56. Hyperprolactinemia”

  1. “The cause of the decreased gonadotropic effects should be explained. As the level of prolactin is high will the body try to counteract this by producing more dopamine, which usually suppresses prolactin production. Dopamine fails to do this however, but it does suppress the production of GnRH, which decreases LH and FSH, which decreases testosterone and oestrogen production.”
    Could you explain those sentence? I don’t understand it. Why dopamine can’t suppress prolactin production? Is it due to damage of the hypothalamus? Or due to the kidney damage? Or just because of the pro- lactin stimulation surpassed inhibition?

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