Objective: Prolactin (PRL) has been demonstrated as a metabolic hormone to regulate energy metabolism recently. The present study aims to investigate the association between PRL and metabolic alterations in different obesity phenotypes.
Methods: A total of 451 drug-naive participants were recruited, comprising 351 obese patients and 100 age- and sex-matched healthy participants with normal weight. PRL, anthropometric, and clinical parameters were measured.
Results: In the obesity group, 15.1% (53/351) were categorized as 'metabolically healthy obesity (MHO)'. Besides favorable blood pressure, glucose, and lipids profiles, the MHO group exhibited increased PRL, and lower levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and adipose tissue insulin resistance (adipo-IR) than the metabolically unhealthy obesity (MUHO) group (PRL, HOMA-IR, and adipo-IR: P < 0.01; hsCRP: P < 0.05). The severe MUHO group showed significantly decreased PRL levels than the mild MUHO group (P < 0.05). Multivariate linear regression analysis indicated that fasting plasma glucose (FBG) and adipo-IR were significantly associated with PRL (FBG: β = -0.263, P < 0.05; adipo-IR: β = -0.464, P < 0.01). Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that hsCRP (OR = 0.824) and PRL (OR = 1.211) were independent predictors of MHO (all P < 0.01).
Conclusion: The MHO group had significantly increased circulating PRL levels when compared with the control and MUHO groups, and multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that PRL was independent predictors of MHO. Our findings suggested that increased circulating PRL might be a compensatory response for favoring energy metabolism during obesity.