Prolactin, Psychological Stress and Environment in Humans: Adaptation and Maladaptation Article DOI:
10.1023/A:1026229810876 Cite this article as: Sobrinho, L.G. Pituitary (2003) 6: 35. doi:10.1023/A:1026229810876 Abstract
Non-puerperal lactation and/or hyperprolactinemia in humans have been related to psychological variables in a variety of ways: (1) Non-puerperal nursing; (2) Pseudopregnancy; (3) Rapid weight gain; (4) Psychogenic galactorrhea; (5) Acute prolactin responses to psychological stress; (6) High prolactin levels in persons who cope passively in real life stress situations; (7) Paternal deprivation in women with pathological hyperprolactinemia; (8) Clinical onset of prolactinomas following life-events.
Publications on the above subjects are scattered in the literature as curiosities, anecdotal case-reports or unexplained associations, as there is no theoretical frame of reference to accommodate them. We propose that prolactin is a component of a biological, “maternal”, subroutine, adaptive to the care of the young, which promotes accumulation of fat for the extraordinary expenses of pregnancy and lactation, the production of milk and maternal behavior. In an attempt to characterize the stimuli responsible for the activation of the maternal subroutine in the absence of pregnancy we studied the hormonal profiles of female volunteers during three types of sessions under hypnosis: (1) Relaxation-only, control sessions; (2) Sessions in which a fantasy of “nursing” was induced; (3) Sessions of evocations of memories. Prolactin surges were related to the evocation, with rage, of humiliating experiences, but not with the fantasy of nursing. Cortisol surges were related to surprise and shock and were negatively associated with prolactin. In conclusion—Prolactin and cortisol are measurable markers of two different, and alternative, coping strategies to “psychological stress”.
emotion obesity prolactin psychological stress weight gain References
Sobrinho LG. Neuropsychiatry of prolactin: Causes and effects.
Baillière's Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Wieschhoff HA. Artificial stimulation of lactation in primitive cultures.
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
. Milan: Franco Lucisano, 1979:475.
Auerbach KG, Avery JL. Induced lactation.
American J Dis Child
Corenblum B, Whitaker M. Inhibition of stress-induced hyperprolactinemia.
Brit Med J
Zeitner RM, Frank MV, Freeman SMD. Pharmacogenic and psychogenic aspects of galactorrhea: A case report.
Am J Psychiatry
Cohen LM, Cassem NH, Molitch ME et al. Pseudonursing: A case of galactorrhea.
Am J Psychiatr
Aruffo RN. Lactation as a denial of separation.
Briehl W, Kulka W. Lactation in a virgin.
Fava GA, Fava M, Kellner R et al. Depression, hostility and anxiety in hyperprolactinemia.
Kellner R, Buckman MT, Fava GA et al. Hyperprolactinemia, distress, and hostility.
Am J Psychiatry
Jürgensen O, Bardé B. Psychodynamic findings in women with elevated serum prolactin. In: Dennerstein L, De Senarclens M. eds.
The Young Woman
. Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica, 1983:210.
Reavley S, Fisher AD, Owen D et al. Psychological distress in patients with hyperprolactinemia.
Year book of Endocrinology. Year Book Medical Publishers, 1985:61.
Rothchild E. Psychologic aspects of galactorrhea.
J Psychosom Obst Gynecol
Sobrinho LG, Sá-Melo P, Nunes MCP et al. Sexual dysfunction in hyperprolactinemic women. Effect of bromocriptine.
J Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology
Nunes MCP, Sobrinho LG, Calhaz-Jorge C et al. Psychosomatic factors in patients with hyperprolactinemia and/or galactorrhea.
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Assies J, Vingerhoets AJJM, Poppelaars K. Psychosocial aspects of hyperprolactinemia.
Rojas LM, Sthory I, Canales ES et al. Factores psicogénicos en el sindroma de amenorrea-galactorrea.
Ginecologia y Obstetricia de México
Sobrinho LG, Nunes MCP, Calhaz-Jorge C et al. Hyperprolactinemia in women with paternal deprivation during childhood.
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Sonino N, Navarrini C, Fallo F et al. A role of stressful life events in the pathogenesis of hyperprolactinemia.
The Endocrine Society 85th Annual Meeting 2003 (P1–642).
Ma W, Ikeda H, Yoshimoto T. Clinicopathologic study of 123 cases of prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas with special reference to multihormone production and clonality of the adenomas.
Molitch ME. Disorders of prolactin secretion.
Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am
Ferreira MF, Sobrinho LG, Pires JS et al. Endocrine and psychological evaluation of women with recent weight gain.
Ferreira MF, Sobrinho LG, Santos MA et al. Weight gain, at least in some women, is an expression of a neuroendocrine state characterized by reduced hypothalamic dopaminergic tone.
Sobrinho LG. The psychosomatic interface: Hyperprolactinemia. In: Horseman ND, ed.
. Boston: Kluwer Academic Press, 2001:100.
Biondi M, Picardi A. Psychological stress and neuroendocrine function in humans: The last two decades of research.
Sobrinho LG, Simões M, Barbosa L et al. Cortisol, prolactin and growth hormone responses to emotions elicited during an hypnoidal state.
Reichlin S. Prolactin and growth hormone in stress. In: Chrousos GP, Loriaux DL, Gold PW, eds.
Mechanisms of Physical and Emotional Stress.
New York: Plenum Press, 1988:353.
Theorell T. Prolactin—A hormone that mirrors passiveness in crisis situations.
Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science
Lozoff B, Felt BT, Nelson EC et al. Serum prolactin and behavior in infants.
Odendaal JSJ, Meintjes RA. Neurophysiological correlates of affiliative behaviour between humans and dogs.
Falsetti L, Gambera A, Barbetti L et al. Long-term follow-up of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea and prognostic factors.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab
Illingworth PJ, Jung RT, Howie PW et al. Reduction in postprandial energy expenditure during pregnancy.
Brit Med J
Uvnäs-Moberg K. Role of efferent and afferent vagal nerve activity during reproduction: Integrating function of oxytocin on metabolism and behavior.
Colao A, Di Sarno A, Cappabianca P et al. Gender differences in the prevalence, clinical features and response to cabergoline in hyperprolactinemia.
Europ J Endocrinol
Bridges RS, Mann PE. Prolactin-brain interactions in the induction of maternal behavior in rats.
Roberts RL, Jenkins KT, Lawler T, Jr et al. Bromocriptine administration lowers serum prolactin and disrupts parental responsiveness in common marmosets (Callithrix j. jacchus).
Bernbaum JC, Pereira GR, Watkins JB et al. Nonnutritive sucking during gavage feeding enhances growth and maturation in premature infants.
Terkel J. Neuroendocrine processes in the establishment of pregnancy and pseudopregnancy in rats.
Bowman LA, Dilley SR, Keverne EB. Suppression of estrogeninduced LH surges by social subordination in talapoin monkeys.
Voith VL Functional significance of pseudocyesis.
Modern Veterinary Practice
Dixon AF, George L. Prolactin and parental behavior in a male New World primate.
Ziegler TE, Wegner FH, Snowdon CT. Hormonal responses to parental and non-parental conditions in male cotton-top tamarins,
, a NewWorld primate.
Reburn CJ, Wynne-Edwards KE. Hormonal changes in males of a naturally biparental and a uniparental mammal.
Sandler J, Dare C, Holder A. The patient and the analyst. London: Allen and Unwin, 1973:73.
Sobrinho LG, Almeida-Costa JM. Hyperprolactinemia as a result of immaturity or regression: The concept of maternal subroutine.
Google Scholar Copyright information
© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003