An assessment of prolactin's value as an index of stress

Benjamin H. Natelson, John E. Ottenweller, David Pitman, Walter N. Tapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


On an every other day basis, chronically catheterized male rats were subjected to a 30 sec grid shock in either an ascending (0.0, 0.25, 1.0, 4.0 mA) or descending order. A third group was repeatedly subjected to 1.0 mA shock over the same time frame. In 85% of the shock trials, plasma prolactin increased from baseline levels, thus indicating that prolactin is a relatively reliable index of stress. However prolactin did not change in a step-wise fashion with stressor intensity for a significant number of rats. Data from the group given repeated exposure to the 1 mA stressor showed no evidence of habituation - a process which might have explained the findings. This study indicates that prolactin levels do not sensitively track stressor intensity for individual rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1597-1602
Number of pages6
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


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