Many women experience declines in their memory during and after menopause, a change thought to be due, in part, to the rapid hormonal changes they weather during that time.
Now, research from the University of Michigan Health System suggests that hormone therapy might help women retain certain memory functions. In a study in the new issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, they report that a group of postmenopausal women showed more brain activity during a visual memory test than did women who were not taking the hormone therapy.
The 10 postmenopausal women in the study, ages 50-60, were given hormone therapy or a placebo for four weeks, followed by a month with no medications, and then four weeks of the other treatment. Their brain activation was measured as they were shown a complex grid of 81 squares, with 40 of them darkened to form a pattern.
Participants were asked to find the matching image from a choice of two, with the new set of images presented after varying time periods (one to four seconds). During the time that the two images were shown, participants were asked to choose the one that matched the initial grid by pressing one of two buttons on an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)-compatible response pad.
Those who were taking combined estrogen-progestin hormone therapy showed significantly increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that is critical in memory tasks, compared with those on placebo (a pill with no medicinal value). The researchers used images from functional MRI, or fMRI, to compare the participants' brain activity.
"Our findings suggest that even relatively short periods of hormone therapy have effects on the memory systems that may be of benefit to some women during the perimenopausal transition or early postmenopause," says lead author Yolanda R. Smith, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the U-M Medical School.
"Other studies have indicated that long-term hormone therapy is not beneficial for the prevention of chronic illnesses," Smith says. "But our study indicates that the effects of short-term hormone therapy on brain circuitry and function warrant further study."
The role of estrogen in maintaining brain function is of great significance as the population ages and the incidence of dementia increases, says senior author Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and radiology at the U-M Medical School and associate research scientist at U-M's Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute (MBNI).
Zubieta notes that working memory – that is, a limited-capacity storage system that allows the brain to actively maintain and manipulate information that is critical for conducting many daily activities over short time periods – has been demonstrated to be less efficient in older adults. This decline has been linked with changes in the prefrontal cortex.
"Our finding of increased activation in the prefrontal cortex in older women using hormone therapy is important and suggestive of potential therapies that need to be explored further," he says. "Eventually, this could lead to new options for women as they enter a time when memory problems typically develop."
The researchers also point out that there have been shown to be risks with hormone replacement therapy. Information is available at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/women/pht_facts.pdf.
Katie Gazella | EurekAlert!
Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
27.04.2017 | Information Technology
26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences