Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

Effects of Aging and Estrogen on Memory and Cognition

Effects of Aging and Estrogen on Memory and Cognition

Overall Status: 
No longer recruiting
Brief Description: 

This study will focus on how aging changes the effects of estrogen on brain regions involved in cognition.

Patient Qualifications: 
Min AgeMax AgeGenderHealthy Volunteers
18 Years
80 Years
Inclusion Criteria: 

  • Three groups of menopausal women will be recruited for these studies: young (age 45-55), older postmenopausal women (age 65-80), and women with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) under age 45 but diagnosed at under age 40
  • Otherwise healthy, nonobese, nonsmoking, and with normal blood pressure
  • History of normal menopause, defined by the absence of menses for at least 12 months
  • Subjects with premature menopause will have had: first menstrual period between age 10-15; regular menstrual cycles before the onset of ovarian failure at under age 35; at least 1 year of amenorrhea (abnormal absence of menstruation) or no unscheduled menses while on hormone replacement therapy; normal adrenal function; no status as carrier for Fragile X premutation
  • Normal or corrected normal vision
  • IQ >70 on the Wechsler Adult Reading Test
  • Absence of mild cognitive impairment and depression
  • Normal mammogram or breast MRI within the past 2 years (age 45 and older only)

Exclusion Criteria: 

  • History of radiotherapy or chemotherapy
  • Absolute contraindications to the use of physiologic replacement doses of estrogen and/or history of coronary artery disease
  • History of breast cancer, blood clot, pulmonary embolus, hypercoagulability, stroke, head trauma, and/or neurologic disorder
  • Contraindication to MRI (e.g., metal implants) or PET imaging (e.g., PET imaging studies in previous 12 months)
  • Concurrent participation in research studies involving medications and/or PET scans
  • Lefthandedness
  • Current breast lump(s) or family/genetic history of breast cancer in younger women (under age 40)
  • Prohibited medications: Gonadal hormone replacement medication, herbal supplements, and/or over-the-counter menopause treatment within 3 months of study; centrally acting medications

Detailed Description: 

Our preliminary data indicate that aging alters the effect of estrogen on brain regions involved in cognition. This study will focus on functional changes induced by estrogen (a 1-mg capsule of estradiol taken daily) in cortical and subcortical areas associated with verbal working memory and declarative/episodic memory.

Participants will include women under age 45 with premature ovarian insufficiency as well as postmenopausal women age 45-55 and age 65-80. We will investigate the effects of both short-term (48 hours) and prolonged (28-30 days) estrogen exposure to determine whether the changes in brain regions involved in cognition that were seen with short-term estrogen exposure persist with prolonged exposure.

Map Marker CityStateZip CodeStatusPrimary Contact

Geolocation is 42.3652917, -71.0646337

Lead Sponsor: 
Massachusetts General Hospital
Collaborator Sponsor: 
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Facility Investigators: 
Janet E. Hall, MD
Principal Investigator
Massachusetts General Hospital
Study Contact: 
Taylor A. Huhta
Locations ID 
NCT01268046 (follow link to view full record on in new window)
Official Title: 
Effects of Aging and Estrogen on Cortical Function
Study Start Date: 
November 2009
Study End Date: 
September 2015