Over 30 000 Swedish men and women may have raised levels of prolactin. Women who are pregnant or breast feeding have naturally raised levels of prolactin, but stress, some medicines and benign brain tumours can also lead to raised levels of the hormone.
"In recent years scientists have also recognised the role of prolactin in the development of obesity, but little research has been done into the precise mechanism by which prolactin regulates metabolism," says Louise Nilsson.
In her thesis Louise Nilsson shows that there are receptors for the breast feeding hormone in human fatty tissue.
"We have demonstrated that prolactin reduces the ability of fatty tissue to store sugar and fat, which then could accumulate in the blood and certain tissues instead. This in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease."
Prolactin also affects the body's ability to metabolise fat. An ongoing study suggests that the hormone impairs the body's ability to maintain a balanced metabolism.
"When fatty tissue receives signals from prolactin, it reacts by reducing the production of another hormone called adiponectin, which is important for the metabolism of a variety of nutrients," explains Louise Nilsson.FACTS ABOUT PROLACTIN
The Sahlgrenska Academy is the faculty of health sciences at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Education and research are conducted within the fields of pharmacy, medicine, odontology and health care sciences.
About 4000 undergraduate students and 1000 postgraduate students are enrolled at Sahlgrenska Academy. The staff is about 1500 persons. 850 of them are researchers and/or teachers.For further information please contact:
Doctoral thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Title of thesis: Effects of prolactin on metabolism - changes induced by hyperprolactinemiaThe thesis has been defended.
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