In most species, the presence of high levels of plasma prolactin appears to be essential for lactation. In rats, the ergot alkaloid bromocriptine (an inhibitor of pro-lactin release from the pituitary) inhibits lactation, and in women it inhibits the onset of lactation when given in appropriate doses. How prolactin influences lactation is not known in any detail. However, it appears to promote mammary epithelial cell survival. In addition, it is an osmoregulator in some species of fish, birds, and amphibians and may function to maintain solute transport in the mammary gland.
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