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K Horiguchi, S Yagi, K Ono, Y Nishiura, M Tanaka, M Ishida, and T Harigaya

Prolactin (PRL) is a single-chain polypeptide hormone that is generally secreted from prolactin cells of the anterior pituitary gland into the blood circulation. However, recent studies indicate that the gene expression of prolactin is ectopic in several tissues across several species. These studies found that lymphocytes also produce PRL, which is involved in the immunoregulatory system. Here, we searched for PRL messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), using the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Southern blotting in the spleens of mice at various growth stages. We also localized mouse prolactin (mPRL) and its mRNA in the spleens of 30- and 60-day-old mice by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization respectively. The mPRL gene was expressed in all spleen samples at 0–60 days postpartum. We localized mPRL mRNA in the sheathed artery, periarterial lymphatic sheath and the marginal zone of the spleen. Moreover, we detected mPRL in essentially the same area as its mRNA. Furthermore, we performed double-fluorescence immunohistochemical staining for mPRL and mouse CD4 that is specifically produced in helper T cells, or for mPRL and mouse CD19 or CD40 specified B cells. We colocalized mPRL immunoreactivity only in some CD4-immunopositive cells. These results clearly suggest that T cells synthesize mPRL in the mouse spleen.