Estrogen and Alzheimer's disease: Still an attractive topic despite disappointment from early clinical results

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Since publication of the results of the Women Health Initiative Memory Study demonstrating that hormone therapy initiated late after menopause increases the risk of dementia in women, attempts have been made to identify a “critical window of intervention”. In the meantime, basic research carried out in the last 10–15 years has reinforced the concept of a strong impact of estrogen in neuroprotection, moving also into novel directions that include characterization of estrogen's effect on non-neuronal cells, mitochondrial function, miRNA production and novel targets for their action in the central nervous system (CNS). All these findings, together with a list of recent animal models of Alzheimer's Disease that appear feasible for the study of estrogen's CNS effect are here summarized and accompanied by the most recent data from clinical trials in which hormone therapy was initiated early after menopause.

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