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Release of Prolactin

Laurie Davison ldavison at ukcc.uky.edu
Wed Apr 10 13:02:17 EST 1996

    Rats and mice are "reflex ovulators". That is, they ovulate in 
response to vaginal stimulation during mating. Input from the vagina 
directly causes release of prolactin, which in turn initiates the 
secretion of ovarian progesterone to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. 
Experiments in which the sensory nerve from the vagina was severed 
prevented this prolactin release. The more matings the female engages in, 
the greater the ammount of prolactin and, consequently, of progesterone. 
Also, prolactin secretion follows a circadian rhythm in many animals, 
including rodents, so this high level of prolactin may be sustained until 
the animal begins to cycle again. Dopamine does have a suppressive effect 
on prolactin levels, but in the rat I do not know exactly what mechanism 
governs dopaminergic regulation. I am currently working on answering this 
question in mares, but data is strictly "preliminary" at this point.  
Hope this helps!

                                           Laurie Davison
                                           ldavison at ukcc.uky.edu

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