Effects of recombinant human prolactin on breast milk composition

Camille E. Powe, Karen M. Puopolo, David S. Newburg, Bo Lönnerdal, Ceng Chen, Maureen Allen, Anne Merewood, Susan Worden, Corrine K. Welt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the impact of recombinant human prolactin (r-hPRL) on the nutritional and immunologic composition of breast milk. METHODS: We conducted 2 trials of r-hPRL treatment. In the first study, mothers with documented prolactin deficiency were given r-hPRL every 12 hours in a 28-day, open-label trial. In the second study, mothers with lactation insufficiency that developed while they were pumping breast milk for their preterm infants were given r-hPRL daily in a 7-day, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Breast milk characteristics were compared before and during 7 days of treatment. RESULTS: Among subjects treated with r-hPRL (N = 11), milk volumes (73±36 to 146±54 mL/day; P<.001) and milk lactose levels (155± 15 to 184±8 mmol/L; P=.01) increased, whereas milk sodium levels decreased (12.1±2.0 to 8.3±0.5 mmol/L; P=.02). Milk calcium levels increased in subjects treated with r-hPRL twice daily (2.8±0.6 to 5.0± 0.9 mmol/L; P = .03). Total neutral (1.5 ± 0.3 to 2.5 ± 0.4 g/L; P = .04) and acidic (33 ± 4 to 60 ± 6 mg/L; P = .02) oligosaccharide levels increased in r-hPRL-treated subjects, whereas total daily milk immunoglobulin A secretionwas unchanged. CONCLUSIONS: r-hPRL treatment increased milk volume and induced changes in milk composition similar to those that occur during normal lactogenesis. r-hPRL also increased antimicrobially active oligosaccharide concentrations. These effects were achieved for women with both prolactin deficiency and lactation insufficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Breastfeeding
  • Neonate
  • Nutrition
  • Premature
  • Prolactin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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