Hormone replacement therapy for cognitive function in postmenopausal women

University of Auckland, O&G FMHS, Grafton Rd, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand, 1142.
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (Impact Factor: 6.03). 01/2008; 1(1):CD003122. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003122.pub2
Source: PubMed


Animal studies (performed both in the laboratory and on living animals) suggest that estrogen alone might protect the brain as women get older. After the menopause, levels of estrogens decline in women and estrogen therapy has been claimed to maintain or enhance cognitive function in postmenopausal women. This review found no evidence of a benefit of any types of estrogen on overall cognitive functioning in older postmenopausal women when given either as short term or longer term (up to five years) therapy. There was also no evidence of a beneficial effect of combined estrogen and progestagen therapy overall. There was insufficient evidence to determine whether any type of hormone replacement therapy had beneficial or harmful effects on specific types of cognitive ability, such as verbal or visual memory.

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    • "Results from various RCTs looking at the effects of estradiol-based hormone therapy (HT) in menopausal women show varying effects (Lethaby et al., 2008). Results from the Women's Health Initiative Study of Cognitive Aging (WHISCA) suggest that HT is detrimental to menopausal women. "
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    ABSTRACT: The effects of estrogens are pleiotropic, affecting multiple bodily systems. Changes from the body’s natural fluctuating levels of estrogens, through surgical removal of the ovaries, natural menopause, or the administration of exogenous estrogens to menopausal women have been independently linked to an altered immune profile, and changes to cognitive processes. Here, we propose that inflammation may mediate the relationship between low levels of estrogens and cognitive decline. In order to determine what is known about this connection, we review the literature on the cognitive effects of decreased estrogens due to oophorectomy or natural menopause, decreased estrogens’ role on inflammation – both peripherally and in the brain - and the relationship between inflammation and cognition. While this review demonstrates that much is unknown about the intersection between estrogens, cognition, inflammation, we propose that there is an important interaction between these literatures.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology
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    • "Memory complaints are highly prevalent during this midlife period (Woods et al., 2000). Some observational studies support a positive association between use of estrogen-containing hormone therapy and cognitive function in healthy women, but the results of randomized controlled trials have failed to show clear evidence of benefit (Henderson and Sherwin, 2007; Lethaby et al., 2008), and there is even some suggestion of mild detriment (Espeland et al., 2004; Maki et al., 2007). While this topic remains one of ongoing debate, the basic question of whether endogenous serum levels of these hormones influence cognitive performance remains uncertain. "
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    ABSTRACT: Gonadal hormones may influence cognitive function. Postmenopausal midlife women in the population-based Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project cohort were administered a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests on two occasions 2 years apart. Participants (n = 148, mean age 60 years) had undergone natural menopause and were not using hormone therapy. Estrone, total and free estradiol, and total and free testosterone levels were measured at time of the first testing. Principal-component analysis identified four cognitive factors. In multiple linear regression analyses, better semantic memory performance was associated with higher total (p = 0.02) and free (p = 0.03) estradiol levels and a lower ratio of testosterone to estradiol (p = 0.007). There were trends for associations between better verbal episodic memory and lower total testosterone (p = 0.08) and lower testosterone/estradiol ratio (p = 0.06). Lower free testosterone levels were associated with greater 2-year improvement on verbal episodic memory (p = 0.04); higher testosterone/estradiol predicted greater semantic memory improvement (p = 0.03). In postmenopausal midlife women, endogenous estradiol and testosterone levels and the testosterone/estradiol ratio are associated with semantic memory and verbal episodic memory abilities.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Neurobiology of aging
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    • "ischaemic stroke was increased by 44%, is added, it is clear that the use of HRT and ERT cannot be justified in the primary prevention of dementia, at least in those over 65, or in the treatment of dementia. The termination of WHIMS led to other studies being stopped, but further evidence on HRT on cognitive function in post-menopausal women has emerged and is included in the up-to-date Cochrane review (Lethaby et al., 2008) which concluded that ERT and HRT do not protect against cognitive ageing in older post-menopausal women and may increase the risk of dementia. "
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    ABSTRACT: The British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) coordinated a meeting of experts to review and revise its first (2006) Guidelines for clinical practice with anti-dementia drugs. As before, levels of evidence were rated using accepted standards which were then translated into grades of recommendation A to D, with A having the strongest evidence base (from randomized controlled trials) and D the weakest (case studies or expert opinion). Current clinical diagnostic criteria for dementia have sufficient accuracy to be applied in clinical practice (B) and brain imaging can improve diagnostic accuracy (B). Cholinesterase inhibitors (donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine) are effective for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (A) and memantine for moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease (A). Until further evidence is available other drugs, including statins, anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamin E and Ginkgo biloba, cannot be recommended either for the treatment or prevention of Alzheimer's disease (A). Neither cholinesterase inhibitors nor memantine are effective in those with mild cognitive impairment (A). Cholinesterase inhibitors are not effective in frontotemporal dementia and may cause agitation (A), though selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may help behavioural (but not cognitive) features (B). Cholinesterase inhibitors should be used for the treatment of people with Lewy body dementias (Parkinson's disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)), especially for neuropsychiatric symptoms (A). Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine can produce cognitive improvements in DLB (A). There is no clear evidence that any intervention can prevent or delay the onset of dementia. Although the consensus statement focuses on medication, psychological interventions can be effective in addition to pharmacotherapy, both for cognitive and non-cognitive symptoms. Many novel pharmacological approaches involving strategies to reduce amyloid and/or tau deposition are in progress. Although results of pivotal studies are awaited, results to date have been equivocal and no disease-modifying agents are either licensed or can be currently recommended for clinical use.
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