Different sensitivity to sodium valproate in healthy, non-tumoral and tumoral hyperprolactinemic subjects

F. Sarnacchiaro, A. Colao, B. Merola, A. Di Sarno, M. L. Landi, C. Di Somma, D. Ferone, A. Tolino, G. Lombardi

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GABAergic drugs affect PRL secretion in both rat and man. Sodium valproate (SV) inhibits GABA transaminase so increasing the endogenous GABAergic tone. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of SV at low and high doses on PRL release in healthy subjects and hyperprolactinemic patients. Fifteen patients with prolactinomas, 8 patients with non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia and 10 healthy subjects were studied: in non consecutive days, all subjects received placebo and SV at the dose of 400 and 800 mg po. Serum PRL levels were assessed 30, 15 and 5 min before and every 30 min for 4 hours after administration. SV at the dose of 400 mg induced a significant decrease of serum PRL in healthy subjects (p <0.05), whereas no effect was noted in both tumoral and non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia. The administration of 800 mg SV induced a significant decrease of PRL levels in healthy subjects and in patients with non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia (p <0.05). Conversely, in prolactinomas a paradoxical increase of serum PRL concentration (p <0.05) was observed 120 min after the administration of the drug. These data confirm the inhibitory activity of SV on PRL release in healthy subjects, and suggest the existence of a partial resistance to GABA in non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia. In prolactinomas, the paradoxical PRL increase after high dose of SV suggests the existence of a complete pituitary resistance to GABA. This finding might be explained by the appearance of the stimulatory effect of GABA at hypothalamic level that could have been unmasked by the lack of pituitary GABA effects on adenomatous lacrotrophs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-518
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1997


  • GABA
  • Hyperprolactinemia
  • PRL
  • Prolactinomas
  • Sodium valproate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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