ERT and Brain Aging

While researchers may not understand how estrogen replacement therapy benefits cognitive function, a recent study offers some insight. The benefit, report researchers, may lie in the brain concentration of choline, a vitamin known to increase memory function.

British researchers measured levels of choline-containing compounds in two regions of the brain in 24 young, premenopausal women, 21 postmenopausal women using estrogen replacement therapy, and 16 postmenopausal women who had never used ERT. Researchers found those who had never used ERT had much greater amounts of choline in the brain than both premenopausal women and postmenopausal women used ERT. Researchers found no significant relationship between the level of choline measured and the duration of ERT use.

Researchers conclude ERT may help decrease memory loss because of its effect on the choline concentration in the hippocampus, one of the two brain regions studied. However, they cited several limitations to their study results. Researchers say other unmeasured variables associated with ERT could have been responsible for the differences found in choline concentrations.

SOURCE: Neurology, 2001;57:2114-2117

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