American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism

Prolactin regulates TRPV1, TRPA1, and TRPM8 in sensory neurons in a sex-dependent manner: Contribution of prolactin receptor to inflammatory pain.

PMID 24022869


Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone produced in the anterior pituitary but also synthesized extrapituitary where it can influence diverse cellular processes, including inflammatory responses. Females experience greater pain in certain inflammatory conditions, but the contribution of the PRL system to sex-dependent inflammatory pain is unknown. We found that PRL regulates transient receptor potential (TRP) channels in a sex-dependent manner in sensory neurons. At >20 ng/ml, PRL sensitizes TRPV1 in female, but not male, neurons. This effect is mediated by PRL receptor (PRL-R). Likewise, TRPA1 and TRPM8 were sensitized by 100 ng/ml PRL only in female neurons. We showed that complete Freund adjuvant (CFA) upregulated PRL levels in the inflamed paw of both male and female rats, but levels were higher in females. In contrast, CFA did not change mRNA levels of long and short PRL-R in the dorsal root ganglion or spinal cord. Analysis of PRL and PRL-R knockout (KO) mice demonstrated that basal responses to cold stimuli were only altered in females, and with no significant effects on heat and mechanical responses in both sexes. CFA-induced heat and cold hyperalgesia were not changed in PRL and PRL-R KO compared with wild-type (WT) males, whereas significant reduction of heat and cold post-CFA hyperalgesia was detected in PRL and PRL-R KO females. Attenuation of CFA-induced mechanical allodynia was observed in both PRL and PRL-R KO females and males. Thermal hyperalgesia in PRL KO females was restored by administration of PRL into hindpaws. Overall, we demonstrate a sex-dependent regulation of peripheral inflammatory hyperalgesia by the PRL system.