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THE NEUROENDOCRINE EFFECTS OF ESTROGEN

by Dr.Dave on Jan 22, 2014     

January is mental health month. Connecting hormone health and mental health may seem like a bit of a leap; however, the relationship between hormones and cognitive function is well known and well documented in scientific literature.

Many hormones and neurotransmitters including progesterone, estrogen, serotonin and more play essential roles in maintaining optimal cognitive function in women. Perhaps the most disregarded of these by some is estrogen whose essential role extends beyond treatment of hot flashes and night sweats. Estrogen influences many processes of the brain by increasing synaptic and dendritic density, decreasing cellular oxidation, and affecting neurotransmitter levels. The decline of estrogen that may take place during the timeframe surrounding menopause (when ovulation ceases) can upset a woman’s neuro and hormonal chemistry resulting in cognitive and mood disturbances. The following are some of the often overlooked effects of estrogen on the brain. Estrogen has a neuroprotective activity against oxidation, as its chemical structure provides free radical scavenging in neurons.

  • Estrogen receptors are abundant in the hippocampus where long term memories are stored. Estrogens regulate synaptogenesis and dendritic density in the hippocampus, rendering estrogen a key player in learning and memory.
  • Estrogen increases the enzyme choline-acetyl transferase and stimulates synthesis of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter related to learning and memory. In studies, women taking estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) have been shown to have better cholinergic function than those who had never taken ERT. Acetylcholine production is greatly decreased in Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Serotonin is a neurotransmitter derived from tryptophan that is commonly thought to contribute to happiness and feelings of well-being. With short term administration, estrogen up-regulates serotonin receptors. Studies have shown that serotonergic tone may be increased in young women and post-menopausal women taking ERT compared with controls.

Are cognitive and mood concerns plaguing you? Discover the contributing neuroendocrine imbalances, including estrogen and beyond, with a Neurohormone Complete or Complete Plus Panel to assess and address neuroendocrine balance for optimal cognitive well-being.

References:

  • Gold EB, Sternfeld B, Kelsey JL, et al. Relation of demographic and lifestyle factors to symptoms in a multi-racial / ethnic population of women 40-55 years of age. Am J Epidemiol 2000; 152:463-73

  • Phillips SM, Sherwin BB. Effects of estrogen on memory function in surgically menopausal women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1992. 17, 485-495.

  • Norbury R, Cutter WJ, Compton J, Robertson DM, Craig M, Whitehead M, Murphy DG. The neuroprotective effects of estrogen on the aging brain. Experim Geront. 2003. 38:109-117.

  • McEwen BS. Invited review: Estrogens effects on the brain: Multiple sites and molecular mechanisms. J Appl Physiol 2001;91:2785-801.

  • Norbury R, Cutter WJ, Compton J, Robertson DM, Craig M, Whitehead M, Murphy DG. The neuroprotective effects of estrogen on the aging brain. Experim Geront. 2003. 38:109-117.

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