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      The Response of Plasma Prolactin to Suckling during Normal and Prolonged Lactation in the Rat

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          In dams which had been kept isolated from pups for 8–10 h, the magnitude of the suckling-induced prolactin rise in the plasma was studied in relation to intensity of suckling stimulus and lactational age of the mother. At midlactation the response of prolactin evoked by suckling was enhanced as litter size increased. Suckling of 2 pups induced a greater prolactin rise in dams adjusted to 2 pups than in dams adjusted to 8 pups. Suckling of 8 pups caused a greater prolactin rise in dams which had been adjusted to an 8-pup litter, than in rats with a 2-pup litter. At late and prolonged lactation the rise of prolactin in the plasma induced by the suckling stimulus of 8 pups was significantly lower than at midlactation. Injection of perphenazine after a period of suckling induced a moderate increase of plasma prolactin in dams at midlactation, and a similar increase in dams at late lactation and at day 42 of lactation. It is concluded that in the first half of lactation the number of pups, i.e. the intensity of the suckling stimulus, is an important factor in determining the magnitude of the prolactin response to suckling. The lower response of plasma prolactin to suckling in late lactation is neither caused by a decrease in suckling stimulus from the pups nor by an increase in prolactin clearance; it is probably due to a gradual reduction in prolactin synthesizing and releasing capacity of the pituitary, brought on by a desensitization of the neural or neuroendocrine system to suckling stimuli as lactation proceeds.

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          Author and article information

          Horm Res Paediatr
          Hormone Research in Paediatrics
          S. Karger AG
          26 November 2008
          : 20
          : 4
          : 261-268
          Agricultural University, Department of Animal Physiology, Wageningen, The Netherlands
          180006 Horm Res 1984;20:261–268
          © 1984 S. Karger AG, Basel

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          Page count
          Pages: 8


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