Twenty-four-hour prolactin secretory patterns in women with galactorrhea, normal menses, normal random prolacting levels and abnormal sellar tomograms

L. P. Kapcala*, M. E. Molitch, J. Arno, L. W. King, S. Reichlin, S. M. Wolpert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


During a systematic study of women with idiopathic galactorrhea, we observed several patients with normal random serum prolactin (PRL) levels and normal menses, but abnormal sellar tomograms characteristic of a pituitary adenoma. To test the hypothesis that these women might have intermittent PRL hypersecretion, we studied PRL secretion by sampling blood every half hour for 24 h in 10 patients and for 17.5 h in another, and compared the findings to those of a group of 5 normal women. The mean 24-h PRL of the 10 patients (16.8 ± 7.8 ng/ml; mean ± SD) was not significantly different from that of the normal women (13.6 ± 3.2 ng/ml), and each patient showed a normal sleep-associated PRL increment. Three individuals exhibited an abnormally elevated 24-h PRL (> 20 ng/ml). Increased PRL secretion occurred primarily at night or in the afternoon. Thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) administration caused normal or exaggerated PRL responses in all patients tested. High resolution CT scanning of two of the hypersecre-tors suggested a microadenoma in one case. In another case whose PRL was normal over 17.5 h, transsphenoidal surgery, carried out because of the tomographic findings and the symptom of headaches, demonstrated a 5-mm chromophobe adenoma that did not contain PRL by immuno-histochemistry. Postoperatively the galactorrhea persisted. We conclude that most women with galactorrhea, normal PRL., normal menses, and abnormal tomograms have normal PRL secretion. However, a minority of patients with this syndrome do demonstrate intermittent PRL hypersecretion. The etiology of intermittent PRL hypersecretion and its relevance to galactorrhea have not been determined. Furthermore the clinical and pathological significance of the “abnormal” tomograms and their relevance to PRL secretion and galactorrhea are not clear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-460
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation: Official Journal of the Italian Society of Endocrinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1984


  • 24-hour-sampling
  • Prolactin
  • galactorrhea
  • prolactinoma
  • tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Twenty-four-hour prolactin secretory patterns in women with galactorrhea, normal menses, normal random prolacting levels and abnormal sellar tomograms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this