Prolactin exerts hematopoietic growth-promoting effects in vivo and partially counteracts myelosuppression by azidothymidine

Mary Alice Woody, Lisbeth A. Welniak, Rui Sun, Zhi Gang Tian, Michelle Henry, Susan Richards, Arati Raziuddin, Dan L. Longo, William J Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Prolactin (PRL) is a neuroendocrine hormone that influences immune and hematopoietic development. The mechanism of action of this hormone in vivo remains unclear; therefore, we assessed the effects of PRL on hematopoiesis in vivo and in vitro. Normal resting mice were treated with 0, 1, 10, or 100 μg of recombinant human prolactin (rhPRL) for 4 consecutive days and euthanized on the fifth day for analysis of myeloid and erythroid progenitors in the bone marrow and spleen. Both frequencies and absolute numbers of splenic colony-forming unit granulocyte-macrophage (CFU-GM) and burst- forming unit-erythroid (BFU-e) were significantly increased in mice receiving rhPRL compared to the controls that had received saline only. Bone marrow cellularities were not significantly affected by any dose of rhPRL, but the absolute numbers and frequencies of bone marrow CFU-GM and BFU-e were augmented by rhPRL. These results suggest that rhPRL can promote hematopoiesis in vivo. Because rhPRL augments myeloid development in vivo, we examined the potential of the hormone to reverse the anemia and myelosuppression induced by azidothymidine (AZT). Mice were given rhPRL injections concurrent with 2.5 mg/mL AZT in drinking water, rhPRL partially restored hematocrits in the animals after 2 weeks of treatment and increased CFU-GM and BFU-e in both spleens and bone marrow. The experiments with AZT and rhPRL support the conclusion that the hormone increases myeloid and erythroid progenitor numbers in vivo, and they suggest that the hormone is clinically useful in reversing myelosuppression induced by AZT or other myeloablative therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-816
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Hematology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Hematopoiesis
  • Myeloid progenitors
  • Neuroendocrine hormone
  • Prolactin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Transplantation


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