Increased serum concentration of nerve growth factor in patients with microprolactinoma

Sandra Sigala, Antonio Martocchia, Cristina Missale, Paolo Falaschi, Pierfranco Spano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nerve growth factor (NGF) is known to play a role as a circulating neurokine, integrating signals from the neuro-immunoendocrine system. The ability of NGF to activate the pituitary-adrenocortical axis, together with the increase of its serum concentration in pregnancy and lactation, supports the hypothesis that NGF is secreted by the pituitary gland and plays a role as modulator of endocrine functions. Evidence obtained both in vitro and in vivo in experimental animal models suggests that lactotroph cells secrete both prolactin (PRL) and NGF. Furthermore, in previous studies we demonstrate that cell lines derived from dopamine (DA)-sensitive human prolactinomas express high levels of NGF messenger RNA and protein. On these basis, we studied serum NGF concentrations in female patients with microprolactinoma (n = 4) and in control women (n = 5). PRL and NGF were measured at the diagnosis, during the thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) test and after the therapy with DA D2 receptor agonist cabergoline (0.25 mg, twice a week). Results obtained suggested that hyperprolactinemia (70.3 ± 8.4 ng/ml) paralleled markedly higher NGF levels (58.4 ± 18.7 pg/ml) compared to controls (PRL 8.7 ± 3.2 ng/ml, NGF 8.4 ± 1.3 pg/ml). Serum concentrations of NGF and PRL during the TRH test were closely associated (r = 0.943, p <0.01). Cabergoline therapy normalized PRL (7.9 ± 3.6 ng/ml) and induced a significant decrease of NGF levels (12.5 ± 4.9 pg/ml). In conclusions, data reported here indicated that, in human microprolactinomas, NGF is released in the bloodstream paralleling PRL-secretion and it is modulated by a neurotransmitter-regulated mechanism, since the normalization of PRL elicited by the DA D2 receptor agonist cabergoline induced a significant decrease of serum NGF as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-24
Number of pages4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004


  • Dopamine D-2 agonists
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Prolactin
  • Prolactinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry


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