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October 1974

Serum Prolactin Levels in Unmedicated Schizophrenic Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute (Dr. Meltzer); the Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York (Dr. Sachar); and the Department of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Presbyterian Hospital, New York (Dr. Frantz).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(4):564-569. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760160102021

Excessive dopaminergic activity in some dopaminergic tracts may be involved in the cause of some types of schizophrenia. We studied serum prolactin levels in newly admitted, unmedicated, psychiatric patients to determine if the prolactin levels in schizophrenic patients might be diminished to reflect increased dopaminergic activity in the tuberoinfundibular tract or the increases associated with psychological stress. Mean serum prolactin concentration was found to be within the normal range in 22 unmedicated, acutely disturbed, newly admitted schizophrenic patients but tended to be elevated in two manic patients and one patient with a severe anxiety state.

It may be possible to use these findings to assess the degree of dopaminergic activity of the tuberoinfundibular tract. It appears that the mechanism that causes stress to increase serum prolactin may be abnormal in some schizophrenic patients.