Reproductive cycle may foreshadow Alzheimer's disease

Reproductive cycle may foreshadow Alzheimer's disease
The ovarian cycle comprises different stages with fluctuating female hormones. Female mice brewing Alzheimer's toxicity (hAPP/Abeta mice) spend more time in estrogen-dominant stages of their reproductive cycles (in brown) than their healthy, otherwise identical sisters without toxicity. With Alzheimer's toxicity brewing, these estrogen-dominant stages promote dysfunction in brain networks and in memory. In contrast, the progesterone-dominant stages (in purple) quell the problems. Could patterns of reproductive cycles in young women predict risk for developing Alzheimer's -- or open the door for prevention and early treatment in young women at risk for the disease? Credit: Arturo Moreno

Female mice destined to develop Alzheimer's-like pathology and related cognitive impairments display a unique pattern of fluctuation in sex hormones during the ovarian cycle, finds new research published in eNeuro. This study suggests the natural reproductive cycle may provide a new window into Alzheimer's Disease (AD) risk among young women.

AD begins to develop decades before the first clinical symptoms emerge. This means the disease may already be progressing during a woman's reproductive years. Dena Dubal and colleagues asked whether the hormones—specifically estrogen—released during the natural ovarian cycle promote disease progression in at-risk individuals.

Despite similarities in cycle length and fertility, the researchers found AD model mice spent a greater portion of time in stages with high estrogen levels than control . These stages were associated with impaired learning and memory and abnormal activity in AD-affected brain regions. The researchers also observed a sharp increase in beta-amyloid production during one of the high-estrogen stages. These findings emphasize the importance of incorporating female biology into the study of nervous system disorders.

More information: eNeuro, DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0132-17.2018

Citation: Reproductive cycle may foreshadow Alzheimer's disease (2018, December 3) retrieved 28 May 2023 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Anxious and forgetful after menopause? Low estrogen may be to blame


Feedback to editors