The effect of clozapine on prolactin secretion at the level of the lactotroph

Steven W.J. Lamberts*, Peter M. van Koetsveld, Leo J. Hofland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Clozapine is an antipsychotic drug which is unusual in that it has no dopamine receptor-blocking activity. Previous studies gave conflicting results whether administration of clozapine induces hyperprolactinemia. In the present study it was shown that a wide concentration range of clozapine does not interfere with dopamine-mediated inhibition of prolactin (PRL) secretion by normal cultured rat pituitary cells. This in contrast to other neuroleptics, like haloperidol and trifluoperazine. Clozapine does also not antagonize norepinephrine-mediated inhibition of PRL secretion. Clozapine exerts at micromolar concentrations a direct inhibitory action on PRL release by cultured normal rat pituitary cells. In cultured rat pituitary tumor cells, these high concentrations of clozapine directly inhibit PRL release as well as the DNA content of the cells, suggesting a direct antimitotic action. In this model clozapine was about 5-10 times less potent than trifluoperazine. Clozapine and trifluoperazine exert an additive inhibitory action both on PRL release and on the DNA content of the pituitary tumor cells. It is concluded that clozapine does not interfere at the pituitary level with dopamine-mediated inhibition of PRL release. At micromolar concentrations clozapine may act on lactotrophs as a calmodulin-inhibitor. These observations suggest that the transient PRL-releasing effects which have been observed in both animal and human studies after clozapine administration are mediated via supra-pituitary actions of the drug.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1019
Number of pages7
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1990


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