Thalamo-Basal Ganglia Connectivity in Postmenopausal Women Receiving Estrogen Therapy
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Cumulative data on the effects of estrogen therapy (ET) on brain function in postmenopausal women suggests that ET influences cerebral metabolism and may protect against age-related declines in various domains of cognitive function. The beneficial cognitive effects of ET may relate to its modulation of the thalamic-striatum cholinergic and dopaminergic systems, as the activity of both neurotransmitter systems in the thalamus appears to be positively influenced by estrogen. In the current study, we attempted to evaluated regional cerebral brain metabolism utilizing [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography in 11 healthy recently-postmenopausal women on ET (ET+) in comparison to 11 recently-postmenopausal and ET-naïve women (ET−) in order to assess the effects of ET on cholinergic and dopaminergic system regulation. Results showed thalamo-basal ganglia connectivity among ET+ women but not among ET− women. The presence of connectivity in the thalamo-striatal pathway in recently postmenopausal women suggests estrogen effects in preserving integrity of the cholinergic and dopaminergic systems. The results also suggest that ET initiated at or near the menopausal transition may modulate brain aging by mediating complex sensory-motor functions.
KeywordsEstrogen Connectivity Brain Menopause Cholinergic Dopaminergic
Dr. Rasgon has received Grant/Research Support from Abbott, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, and Wyeth-Ayerst. She was on advisory boards for GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth-Ayerst, and has received currently or in the past Speaker Honorarium from Abbott, Bristol Myers Squibb, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer. The University of California, Los Angeles, owns a U.S. patent (6,274,119) entitled “Methods for Labeling b-Amyloid Plaques and Neurofibrillary Tangles,” which has been licensed to Siemens. Dr. Small is among the inventors, has received royalties, and will receive royalties on future sales. Dr. Small served as a consultant and has received Speaker Honorarium from Abbott, Brainstorming Co., Dakim, Eisai, Forest, Myriad Genetics, Novartis, Ortho-McNeil, Pfizer, Radica, Servier, and Siemens. Dr. Small also has received stock options from Dakim.