Prolactin secretion in healthy adults is determined by gender, age and body mass index

Ferdinand Roelfsema, Hanno Pijl, Daniel M. Keenan, Johannes D. Veldhuis

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65 Scopus citations


Background: Prolactin (PRL) secretion is quantifiable as mean, peak and nadir PRL concentrations, degree of irregularity (ApEn, approximate entropy) and spikiness (brief staccato-like fluctuations). Hypothesis: Distinct PRL dynamics reflect relatively distinct (combinations of) subject variables, such as gender, age, and BMI. Location: Clinical Research Unit. Subjects: Seventy-four healthy adults aged 22-77 yr (41 women and 33 men), with BMI 18.3-39.4 kg/m2. Measures: Immunofluorometric PRL assay of 10-min samples collected for 24 hours. Results: Mean 24-h PRL concentration correlated jointly with gender (P<0.0001) and BMI (P = 0.01), but not with age (overall R2 = 0.308, P<0.0001). Nadir PRL concentration correlated with gender only (P = 0.017) and peak PRL with gender (P<0.001) and negatively with age (P<0.003), overall R2 = 0.325, P<0.0001. Forward-selection multivariate regression of PRL deconvolution results demonstrated that basal (nonpulsatile) PRL secretion tended to be associated with BMI (R2 = 0.058, P = 0.03), pulsatile secretion with gender (R2 = 0.152, P = 0.003), and total secretion with gender and BMI (R2 = 0.204, P<0.0001). Pulse mass was associated with gender (P = 0.001) and with a negative tendency to age (P = 0.038). In male subjects older than 50 yr (but not in women) approximate entropy was increased (0.942±0.301 vs. 1.258±0.267, P = 0.007) compared with younger men, as well as spikiness (0.363±0.122 vs. 0463±2.12, P = 0.031). Cosinor analysis disclosed higher mesor and amplitude in females than in men, but the acrophase was gender-independent. The acrophase was determined by age and BMI (R2 = 0.186, P = 0.001). Conclusion: In healthy adults, selective combinations of gender, age, and BMI specify distinct PRL dynamics, thus requiring balanced representation of these variables in comparative PRL studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere31305
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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