Longitudinal Effects of Immediate and Delayed Estradiol on Cognitive Performance in a Spatial Maze and Hippocampal Volume in Menopausal Macaques Under an Obesogenic Diet

Benjamin Zimmerman, Payel Kundu, Zheng Liu, Henryk F. Urbanski, Christopher D. Kroenke, Steven G. Kohama, Cynthia L. Bethea, Jacob Raber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The consumption of a diet high in fat and refined sugars has several health risks, including the development of cognitive decline and neurodegeneration. For women, menopause carries additional health risks that may interact with a high-fat diet in negative ways. Some symptoms of menopause, including cognitive impairments, can be modulated by hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but the hormonal formulation and the timing of the treatment relative to the onset of menopause are critical factors determining its efficacy. Little is known about how obesogenic, high-fat, high-sugar diets interact with HRT in menopause to affect cognition and neurodegeneration. Given the high prevalence of the consumption of an obesogenic Western-style diet, understanding how the effects of HRT are modulated by an obesogenic diet is critical for developing optimized therapeutic strategies for peri- and post-menopausal women. In this study, we investigated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) the effects of either immediate or delayed estradiol hormone therapy on cognition and neuroanatomy following ovo-hysterectomy (OvH) of aged, female rhesus macaques on an obesogenic diet. The macaques were followed for 2.5 years after ovo-hysterectomy, with four time points at which anatomical MRIs were acquired. Analysis of hippocampal volumes revealed an interaction between time point and treatment; hippocampal volumes in the delayed estrogen group, but not the immediate estrogen group, increased over time compared to those in untreated controls. Performance on a hippocampal-dependent spatial maze task showed improved performance in estrogen treated animals compared to OvH macaques given placebo. These results indicate that HRT may contribute to beneficial cognitive outcomes after menopause under an obesogenic diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number539
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 24 2020

Keywords

  • aging
  • hormone replacement therapy
  • menopause
  • neurodegeneration
  • obesogenic diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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