Prolactin and Stress

Postpartum women who do not breastfeed have higher cortisol responses to stressors, which might contribute to the risk of postpartum depression. Postpartum rats that do not nurse also have heightened glucocorticoid responses to stressors. Rodent studies indicate that high prolactin concentrations during the postpartum period suppress glucocorticoid responses to acute stressors. We are investigating whether chronic exposure to prolactin reduces glucocorticoid responses to chronic stressors and reduces stress-induced depression-like behavior.