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Progesterone Estrogen Show Promise in Alzheimer's Study

Animal study suggests that estrogen and progesterone may reduce Alzheimer's disease risk in postmenopausal women

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Estrogen and progesterone, taken together or separately, may cut the risk of Alzheimer's disease in postmenopausal women, according to the results of a study in mice published in the Nov. 28 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Jenna C. Carroll, of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues investigated the effects of estrogen and progesterone on hippocampal-influenced behavior problems, tau hyperphosphorylation, and beta-amyloid plaque in triple transgenic mice with Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers found aggravated beta-amyloid accumulation and memory loss in triple transgenic female adult mice whose sex hormones were depleted due to ovariectomy, however treating these mice with estrogen prevented these problems. When estrogen and progesterone were given together, progesterone prevented estrogen's positive effects on beta-amyloid plaque accumulation, but not on behavior. Progesterone given alone or with estrogen was found to dramatically cut tau hyperphosphorylation.

"These results demonstrate that estrogen and progesterone independently and interactively regulate Alzheimer's disease-like neuropathology and suggest that an optimized hormone therapy may be useful in reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease in postmenopausal women," the authors conclude.

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