Prolactin is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and, like growth hormone, is a non-glycosylated single polypeptide chain. Its primary function is the development and maintenance of lactation. Serum levels of prolactin elevate after approximately the eighth week of pregnancy and continue to rise until term.
Elevated serum levels of prolactin are associated with infertility in men and women, male impotence, and primary hypothyroidism. In addition, abnormal prolactin serum levels in women have been associated with several clinical conditions: galactorrhea, anovulation with amenorrhea, hypoestrogenism, and hyperprolactinaemia. As such, immunoassays for prolactin serum levels are useful in the detection and monitoring of these disorders.
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