Effects of hormone therapy on brain structure

Kejal Kantarci, Nirubol Tosakulwong, Timothy G. Lesnick, Samantha M. Zuk, Jeffrey L. Gunter, Carey E. Gleason, Whitney Wharton, N. Maritza Dowling, Prashanthi Vemuri, Matthew L. Senjem, Lynne T. Shuster, Kent R. Bailey, Walter A. Rocca, Clifford R. Jack, Sanjay Asthana, Virginia M. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the effects of hormone therapy on brain structure in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial in recently postmenopausal women. Methods: Participants (aged 42-56 years, within 5-36 months past menopause) in the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study were randomized to (1) 0.45 mg/d oral conjugated equine estrogens (CEE), (2) 50 mg/d transdermal 17b-estradiol, or (3) placebo pills and patch for 48 months. Oral progesterone (200 mg/d) was given to active treatment groups for 12 days each month. MRI and cognitive testing were performed in a subset of participants at baseline, and at 18, 36, and 48 months of randomization (n 5 95). Changes in whole brain, ventricular, and white matter hyperintensity volumes, and in global cognitive function, were measured. Results: Higher rates of ventricular expansion were observed in both the CEE and the 17b-estradiol groups compared to placebo; however, the difference was significant only in the CEE group (p = 0.01). Rates of ventricular expansion correlated with rates of decrease in brain volume (r = 20.58; p ≤0.001) and with rates of increase in white matter hyperintensity volume (r =0.27; p = 0.01) after adjusting for age. The changes were not different between the CEE and 17b-estradiol groups for any of the MRI measures. The change in global cognitive function was not different across the groups. Conclusions: Ventricular volumes increased to a greater extent in recently menopausal women who received CEE compared to placebo but without changes in cognitive performance. Because the sample size was small and the follow-up limited to 4 years, the findings should be interpreted with caution and need confirmation. Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that brain ventricular volume increased to a greater extent in recently menopausal women who received oral CEE compared to placebo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-896
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 30 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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