Activating oestrogen brain receptor improves memory

July 30th, 2008 - 4:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 30 (IANS) Activating the oestrogen brain receptor can counteract low levels of the hormone in women as well as protecting them against neurological disorders. The discovery has enabled researchers improve thought processes in female mice, bred with an ability to produce oestrogen receptor-alpha, a protein needed for healthy learning and memory.

“We were able to restore function in these animals, not by dosing them with oestrogen, but by enabling them to use oestrogen that was naturally present in their bodies,” said Tom Foster, at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

“We discovered that you can affect the oestrogen receptor directly in the hippocampus, right where it’s needed to address memory and spatial learning,” he added.

Changes in the oestrogen receptor have been associated with age-related memory deficit and an increased incidence of Alzheimer’s among women.

In addition, previous studies have shown oestrogen replacement may improve cognition in postmenopausal and younger women with low oestrogen levels. Oestrogen also appears to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The downside is that oestrogen is a powerful hormone that has far-reaching effects throughout the body. It has been associated with a slight increase in women’s risk for breast cancer, heart disease in patients with existing cardiovascular problems and stroke.

These findings have appeared online in Molecular Therapy.

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