An Emerging Role for Prolactin in Female-Selective Pain.

Chen Y, Navratilova E, Dodick DW, Porreca F. 2020. An Emerging Role for Prolactin in Female-Selective Pain. Trends Neurosci. 43:635–648. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2020.06.003.

Women experience many pain conditions more frequently when compared with men, but the biological mechanisms underlying sex differences in pain remain poorly understood. In particular, little is known about possible sex differences in peripheral nociceptors, the fundamental building blocks of pain transmission. Emerging evidence reveals that prolactin (PRL) signaling at its cognate prolactin receptor (PRLR) in primary afferents promotes nociceptor sensitization and pain in a female-selective fashion. In this review, we summarize recent progress in understanding the female-selective role of PRL/PRLR in nociceptor sensitization and in pathological pain conditions, including postoperative, inflammatory, neuropathic, and migraine pain, as well as opioid-induced hyperalgesia. The clinical implications of the peripheral PRL/PRLR system for the discovery of new therapies for pain control in women are also discussed.