Suppression of macrophage activation and T-lymphocyte function in hypoprolactinemic mice

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Science  22 Jan 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4838, pp. 401-404
DOI: 10.1126/science.3122324


The effects of prolactin on lactation and reproductive organs are well known. However, the other possible target organs and physiological consequences of altered levels of circulating prolactin remain poorly understood. In this study, mice were treated with bromocryptine, a dopamine receptor agonist that inhibits pituitary prolactin secretion. Bromocryptine treatment prevented T-cell-dependent induction of macrophage tumoricidal activity after the intraperitoneal injection of Listeria monocytogenes or Mycobacterium bovis. Coincident treatment with ovine prolactin reversed this effect. Of the multiple events leading to macrophage activation in vivo, the production by T-lymphocytes of gamma-interferon was the most impaired in bromocryptine-treated mice. Lymphocyte proliferation after stimulation with mitogens in vitro was also depressed in spleens of bromocryptine-treated mice, and coadministration of prolactin also reversed this effect. Bromocryptine treatment also reduced the number of deaths resulting from inoculation of mice with Listeria; exogenous prolactin significantly reversed this effect. The critical influence of pituitary prolactin release on maintenance of lymphocyte function and on lymphokine-dependent macrophage activation suggests that, in mice, lymphocytes are an important target tissue for circulating prolactin.