Sex-dependent roles of prolactin and prolactin receptor in postoperative pain and hyperalgesia in mice

M. J. Patil, D. P. Green, M. A. Henry, A. N. Akopian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Although surgical trauma activates the anterior pituitary gland and elicits an increase in prolactin (PRL) serum levels that can modulate nociceptive responses, the role of PRL and the PRL-receptor (PRL-R) in thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia in postoperative pain is unknown. Acute postoperative pain condition was generated with the use of the hindpaw plantar incision model. Results showed endogenous PRL levels were significantly increased in serum, operated hindpaw and spinal cords of male and female rats 24. h after incision. These alterations were especially pronounced in females. We then examined the role of the PRL system in thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia in male and female mice 3-168. h after plantar incision with the use of knock-out (KO) mice with PRL or PRL-R gene ablations and in wild-type (WT) mice. WT mice showed postoperative cold hyperalgesia in a sex-dependent manner (only in females), but with no effect on heat hyperalgesia or mechanical allodynia in either sex. Studies in KO mice showed no effect of PRL and PRL-R gene ablation on heat and cold hyperalgesia in male mice, while heat hyperlgesia were reduced 3-72. h post-surgery in female PRL and PRL-R KO mice. In contrast, PRL and PRL-R ablations significantly attenuated mechanical allodynia 3-72. h post-surgery in both male and female mice. Overall, we found elevated PRL levels in serum, hindpaws and spinal cords after incision, and identify a contributory role for the PRL system in postoperative pain responses to thermal stimuli in females and to mechanical stimuli in both males and females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-141
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Dec 3 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Pain
  • Post operative model
  • Prolactin
  • Prolactin receptor
  • Sex-dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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