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Tulane to study estrogen’s contradictory dementia effects

March 12, 2022 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A five-year study by the Tulane University Brain Institute will focus on understanding why estrogen therapy helps protect some women from age-related brain problems, while other women do not benefit from the therapy.

The $14 million study will be funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, the university said in a Monday news release. The university notes that estrogen therapy may not benefit all women, especially those with hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

Jill Daniel is the director of the Tulane Brain Institute. She will lead a team of scientists from the Tulane schools of Science and Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health and Tropical Medicine and from the LSU Health Sciences Center and Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. They will work to determine the conditions under which estrogen therapy may increase or decrease risk for developing dementia.

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“In the lab, estrogens are neuroprotective and enhance memory,” Daniel said. “Yet in women, effects of menopausal estrogen therapy on aging brains can range from beneficial to detrimental.”

The federal grant includes interrelated research projects, with investigators focusing on such areas as the effects of hypertension and a high-fat diet on the ability of estrogen to affect the aging female brain estrogen’s effect vascular health and cognitive aging.