Neuroendocrine hormones such as growth hormone and prolactin are integral members of the immunological cytokine network.
We have analysed the in vitro effects of prolactin on thymocyte development concluding that PRL favours the survival and differentiation of T-cell progenitors. Fetal, adult thymocytes and CD45(+) fetal liver lymphoid progenitors express PRL-R. PRL induces survival, proliferation and differentiation of lymphoid progenitors whereas both an anti-PRL antiserum and an anti-PRL-R mAb block T-cell development accumulating CD25(+)DN (CD4(-)CD8(-)) cells. Furthermore, IL2 rescues the blockade of T-cell development in FTOC treated with anti-PRL antiserum but PRL does not recover cultures treated with an anti-IL2R alpha chain mAb, which drastically blocks the T-cell development. These results support IL2/IL2R mediation of PRL effects on developing thymocytes.