JACC Basic Transl Sci 2019 Jun 24;4(3):291-300. Epub 2019 Jun 24.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The etiology of peripartum cardiomyopathy remains unknown. One hypothesis is that an increase in the 16-kDa form of prolactin is pathogenic and suggests that breastfeeding may worsen peripartum cardiomyopathy by increasing prolactin, while bromocriptine, which blocks prolactin release, may be therapeutic. An autoimmune etiology has also been proposed. The authors investigated the impact of breastfeeding on cellular immunity and myocardial recovery for women with peripartum cardiomyopathy in the IPAC (Investigations in Pregnancy Associated Cardiomyopathy) study. Women who breastfed had elevated prolactin, and prolactin levels correlated with elevations in CD8 T cells. However, despite elevated prolactin and cytotoxic T cell subsets, myocardial recovery was not impaired in breastfeeding women.