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The Hormone, Prolactin, Might Help Liver Regeneration

Editors at
Oct 23rd, 2013

New findings show the possibility of prolactin’s (milk-maker hormone) ability to improve regeneration when the liver becomes compromised, or after surgery.

Milk-Maker Hormone May Help Liver Regenerate


Study using animal model is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Bethesda, Md. —The hormone prolactin is probably best known for its role in stimulating milk production in mothers after giving birth. But prolactin also has an important function in the liver. This organ has the highest number of prolactin receptors in the body, ports that allow this hormone to enter liver cells. There, prolactin signals these cells to multiply and new blood vessels to grow to fuel this organ’s expansion.

Wondering if these properties might be useful to encourage the liver to regrow after surgery to remove part of it—sometimes necessary to treat cancer or other liver diseases, or to donate liver tissue for transplants—Carmen Clapp of the Universidad Nacional Automoma de Mexico and her colleagues worked with animal models on both ends of a prolactin spectrum: rats that overproduced the hormone, and mice specially bred to have no prolactin receptors, the equivalent of a dearth of the hormone since prolactin can’t enter these animals’ cells.

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