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Prolactin receptor gene expression in rat splenocytes and thymocytes during oestrous cycle, pregnancy and lactation
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Much evidence suggests that prolactin (PRL) has an immunoregulatory function. Part of this evidence is that the receptors for PRL are present on lymphocytes. Probably the effects of PRL on cells of the immune system depend on the level and specific forms of PRL-R present on the target cells. Therefore, PRL-R expression at both protein and mRNA levels was examined during oestrous cycle, pregnancy and lactation using Western blotting and PCR analysis. Antibody to the long form of PRL-R detected 84 and 42 kDa protein bands in the spleen but only 84 kDa band in the thymus. The expression pattern of these two protein bands was different in the spleen, suggesting that these two isoforms of PRL-R long form are differentially regulated by the hormones of oestrous cycle. In addition, depending on the tissue, the level of mRNA for the short and long forms of PRL-R showed a significant change at different stages of oestrous cycle. Moreover, 42 and 84 kDa PRL-R bands were detected in both spleen and thymus throughout the pregnancy and lactation; however, the expression pattern of 84 kDa protein band was different between tissues. This finding suggests that each tissue exhibits differential response to hormones which affect PRL-R content.