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Menopause Causes Metabolic Changes In Brain That Might Increase Alzheimer Risk

By jeremyc | October 12, 2017

Menopause triggers metabolic changes inside the brain which in turn might put a woman at a greater risk of Alzheimer’s, according to a new study.

These results can help answer the question which has puzzled healthcare providers for long: why the incidence rate of Alzheimer’s is higher in women compared to men? The researchers also believe that these findings might pave the way for development of screening tests as well as early interventions for reversing or slowing metabolic changes that occur in the brain during menopause and that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s affects over 5 million people in the U.S. It is estimated that nearly one-third of American adults over 85 years have this neurodegenerative condition. The disease process starts many years before dementia begins.

In this study, the researchers used PET for measuring glucose activity in brains of 43 women, within the age group of 40-60 years. In the studied group, 14 women were peri-menopausal, another 14 menopausal and remaining 15 pre-menopausal.

The brain scans of menopausal and peri-menopausal women showed significantly lower glucose metabolism levels in some key brain regions, compared to pre-menopausal women. Additionally, peri-menopausal and menopausal women recorded lower activity levels of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase, a crucial metabolic enzyme. They also had lower scores on memory tests.

The results strongly hint at the role diminishing estrogen levels in menopause plays in triggering metabolic changes in the brain. So after all, lower estrogen levels might be doing much more than diminishing fertility.

The researchers now plan to study this link further on a much larger scale.

Topics: | Alzheimer's/Dementia | No Comments »

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