Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Fitness counteracts cognitive decline from hormone-replacement therapy


Women pondering hormone-replacement therapy also should consider regular exercise. A new study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that being physically fit offsets cognitive declines attributed to long-term therapy.

"This study not only tells us that there is a benefit to being highly fit, it pinpoints where in the brain it matters for postmenopausal women who have been using the two strategies," said lead author Kirk I. Erickson, a postdoctoral researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.

The study appeared online this month in advance of regular publication in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. By using magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry (VBM), researchers documented the combined effects on specific areas of the brain based on fitness of short- and long-term users of hormone therapy.

Researchers also looked at how well 54 postmenopausal women performed on a computerized version of the Wisconsin Card Sort Test, in which constantly changing rules challenge memory, inhibition and task-switching abilities known as executive functions. The women were divided into groups based on use or non-use and duration of hormone therapy and existing fitness levels.

"We found that higher fitness levels enhance the effects of shorter durations of hormone treatment and offset the declines associated with long-term use," said Arthur F. Kramer, a Beckman researcher and psychology professor. "It may be that a combination of HRT and exercise boosts both cognition and brain structure of older women."

Participants ranged in age from 58 to 80, with a mean age of 70. Hormone status and duration of use were assessed based on their self-reports, and aerobic fitness was measured by monitoring respiration, heart rate and blood pressure during a treadmill test.

MRI images of the participants’ brains were taken, segmented into 3-D maps and analyzed by VBM, which allows for high spatial resolution of the volume of gray and white matter. The women also were screened for duration of hormone use, aerobic fitness levels, age, education, socioeconomic status, age at menopause and for dementia.

VBM analysis revealed that four regions of gray matter -- left and right prefrontal cortex, left parahippocampal gyrus and left subgenual cortex -- varied with duration of hormone treatment. Longer hormone usage resulted in significantly less tissue volume in these areas. However, higher fitness scores were tied to greater tissue volume.

While there were no significant effects of the interaction of hormone duration and fitness on white matter in general, higher fitness levels were tied to greater prefrontal white matter regions and in the genu of the corpus callosum, a key area that interconnects frontal areas of the brain.

"Critically, the tissue volume measures in all four gray matter regions revealed that high fitness levels were associated with a more modest decline in regional brain volume than low fitness levels with increasing durations of hormone therapy," the researchers wrote. "High fitness levels also were associated with a significant sparing of the neural tissue of women not receiving hormone replacement therapy."

Durations of therapy of less than 10 years showed enhanced tissue volume compared with all other groups, and the decline in tissue volume only began after 11 to 15 years of hormone-replacement therapy.

Erickson and Kramer noted that their findings in women were in line with previous animal studies that have found that estrogen and fitness have similar mechanisms in the brain. Estrogen and fitness both stimulate brain-derived neurotropic factor, a molecule tied to the production of capillaries, plasticity and neurons.

These preliminary findings are based on only a small sampling of women and need to be considered in a much broader clinical setting, Kramer said. However, the findings mirror similar studies in his lab that are continuing to show the benefits of physical fitness in older people.

Co-authors with Erickson and Kramer were Stanley J. Colcombe, a research scientist at the Beckman Institute; Paige E. Scalf, a postdoctoral researcher in Kramer’s lab; Edward McAuley, a Beckman researcher and professor of kinesiology and psychology; McAuley’s former doctoral student Steriani Elavsky; and Donna L. Korol, professor of psychology.

Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>