Specific binding of radioactively labeled prolactin was determined in membrane preparations from mammary glands and livers of rats during pregnancy and lactation. Prolactin binding to mammary gland increased throughout late pregnancy and early lactation, reached a maximum on Day 11 of lactation, and then declined. Maximum prolactin binding to liver membrane preparations was observed during late pregnancy and declined throughout lactation. Estradiol benzoate (20 µg/day), administered on Days 5 to 10 of lactation, reduced prolactin binding to mammary gland by 55%, increased binding to liver 2-fold, and reduced litter weight gain by 25%.

Prolactin binding to 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary tumors was 3 times higher than that observed in lactating mammary gland. Administration of prolactin enhanced tumor growth but decreased specific prolactin binding to tumors. Lergotrile mesylate inhibited and estradiol benzoate (2 µg/day) enhanced tumor growth, but neither treatment affected prolactin binding to tumor membrane preparations. In contrast, higher doses of estradiol benzoate (20 µg/day) inhibited tumor growth and reduced prolactin binding. Prolactin binding varied widely within all groups of mammary tumors and was not clearly related to growth response or to altered circulating estrogen and/or prolactin levels. Hormone dependence in this animal tumor model is complex and may not be predicted on the basis of prolactin-binding capacity alone.


This work was supported by USPHS Grant CA-16787.

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