Menopause causes women to suffer more from Alzheimer's than men

Lower estrogen levels in women after menopause may play a key role in the onset of disease-related brain changes. Alzheimer, according to researchers from the Weill Cornell Medical Center, in the United States.

"Aroundtwo thirds of people living with Alzheimer's are women, and the general idea has been that it is because women tend to live longer, "says Lisa Mosconi, from the Weill Cornell Medical Center and author of the study, which is published in the scientific journal 'Neurology'. However, in the In recent years, many researchers have begun to explore possible physiological reasons for which there are such marked differences between the sexes in Alzheimer's cases. In fact, an investigation last year noted a number of sex-specific genes that could increase the risk of Alzheimer's in women, while another suggested that structural and functional differences in female brains they could speed up the spread of toxic proteins.

The study at hand is based on what researchers have called the "estrogen hypothesis". This hypothesis suggests that women seem to show a greater susceptibility to Alzheimer's because the drop in estrogen levels after menopause you can exacerbate predisposition to brain changes associated with this neurodegenerative disease. To try to demonstrate this hypothesis, 85 women and 36 men aged 40-65 years, all of them cognitively healthy and participated in detailed MRIs and CT scans to measure four Alzheimer-related biomarkers, such as levels of beta amyloid protein accumulation and rates of glucose metabolism.

Triggers brain changes

Compared to the male group, women had, on average, 30 percent more beta amyloid accumulation, a 22 percent less glucose metabolism and about 11 percent less volume of gray and white matter. Controlling for variables, the study found that menopausal status was the most consistent predictor for these Alzheimer biomarkers, adding some weight to the estrogen hypothesis.

"Menopausal status may be the best predictor of Alzheimer's-related brain changes in women"

"Although all sex hormones are likely to be involved, our findings suggest that decreases in estrogen are involved in abnormalities of Alzheimer's biomarkers in women that we observe, "adds Mosconi in statements quoted by the New Atlas." The pattern of waste of Gray matter in particular shows an anatomical overlap with the estrogen brain network. "

Although it is more research needed and that Alzheimer's is a significantly heterogeneous disease, which involves a complex volume of genetic and environmental factors, Mosconi says his team's research points to hormonal factors and menopausal status as potentially valuable indicators of early Alzheimer's risk in some women. "Our results show changes in the characteristics of brain imaging, or biomarkers in the brain, suggesting that menopausal status may be the best predictor of Alzheimer's-related brain changes in women."