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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 May 2023 - 12 May 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Abdominal/Pelvic Pain, Inflammation/Inflammatory

2023 May 09

Pharmacol Ther


Prolactin and pain of endometriosis.


Lee GJ, Porreca F, Navratilova E


Women experience chronic pain more often than men with some pain conditions being specific to women while others are more prevalent in women. Prolactin, a neuropeptide hormone with higher serum levels in women, has recently been demonstrated in preclinical studies to sensitize nociceptive sensory neurons in a sexually dimorphic manner. Dysregulation of prolactin and prolactin receptors may be responsible for increased pain especially in female predominant conditions such as migraine, fibromyalgia, and pelvic pain. In this review, we focus on the role of prolactin in endometriosis, a condition characterized by pelvic pain and infertility that affects a large proportion of women during their reproductive age. We discuss the symptoms and pathology of endometriosis and discuss how different sources of prolactin secretion may contribute to this disease. We highlight our current understanding of prolactin-mediated mechanisms of nociceptor sensitization in females and how this mechanism may apply to endometriosis. Lastly, we report the results of a systematic review of clinical studies conducted by searching the PubMed and EMBASE databases to identify association between endometriosis and blood levels of prolactin. The results of this search strongly indicate that serum prolactin levels are increased in patients with endometriosis and support the possibility that high levels of prolactin may promote pelvic pain in these patients and increase vulnerability to other comorbid pain conditions likely by dysregulating prolactin receptor expression. Targeting of prolactin and prolactin receptors may improve management of pain associated with endometriosis.