Described is a two-chromatographic-step preparative-scale technique for the purification of human prolactin from a frozen pituitary homogenate. The method utilizes hydrophobic interaction chromatography on the mildly hydrophobic adsorbent phenyl-Sepharose CL-4B and anion-exchange chromatography on DEAE-cellulose in the presence of acetonitrile. Human prolactin was solubilized at pH10.0 after a prior extraction of pituitaries at pH4.0, the acid pH being ineffective at solubilizing human prolactin but capable of solubilizing large amounts of interfering protein. An 11-fold increase in the potency of the solubilized human prolactin was achieved in this manner. Prolactin could be adsorbed to phenyl-Sepharose at low ionic strengths (I<0.01); few other proteins were adsorbed under these conditions. This is a demonstration of the hydrophobic nature of human prolactin. The amount of phenyl-Sepharose was limited to the minimum (35mg of protein/g of phenyl-Sepharose) necessary to adsorb human prolactin, further reducing the uptake of other pituitary protein. Desorption was achieved by using an acetonitrile gradient (0–30%, v/v), resulting in a purification of human prolactin of 85-fold and recovery of 78%. Acetonitrile (20%, v/v) was also included in all buffers for DEAE-cellulose chromatography, increasing the resolution and recovery of human prolactin, apparently by minimizing non-ionic interactions with the matrix. Prolactin (10mg) was recovered from 63g if pituitaries, an overall recovery of 58%. It was homogeneous by gel filtration and sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis, contained less than 0.1% somatotropin (growth hormone), on iodination demonstrated more than 95% binding to excess anti-(human prolactin) serum and could be displaced from anti-(human prolactin) serum in a manner indistinguishable from the serum of a patient with a human prolactin-secreting adenoma.

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