Reduced prolactin binding to liver membranes during pheromonal emission in the rat

Theresa M. Lee, Bernard Halpern, Chung Lee, Howard Moltz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Between 14 and 27 days of lactation, female rats excrete a pheromone in their feces that is cholic-acid dependent and that strongly attracts young. Previous research has shown that high circulating levels of prolactin are necessary before the pheromone can be emitted. However, during the time of pheromonal emission prolactin in serum conspicuously declines, while in hepatic cytosol the hormone reaches peak levels. We were interested in the question of how the liver can show peak cytosolic concentrations of prolactin at a time of falling blood levels of prolactin. Accordingly, we examined the prolactin binding capacity of liver membrane fractions during selected periods of lactation. We also studied the livers of virgin and pregnant females for comparison. Three membrane fractions were separated: the cell membrane, the nuclear membrane and a fraction consisting of the cell membrane and large non-nuclear organelles. In all three fractions, there was an increase in available and total prolactin binding in the liver when pregnant females were compared with nulliparous females. However, during the time of pheromonal emission, when prolactin in hepatic cytosol was elevated, there was a significant reduction in the prolactin binding capacity of the liver. How such a reduction increases the cytosolic concentration of the hormone and in turn heightens cholic acid output and pheromonal emission remains unsolved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1149-1154
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1982


  • Liver membranes
  • Maternal pheromone
  • Prolactin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Reduced prolactin binding to liver membranes during pheromonal emission in the rat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this