University of Louisville

Poster Title

Do Pharmacological Doses of Phytoestrogens Exert a Negative Effect on Motor Coordination in Aging Brains?

Institution

University of Louisville

Abstract

Age-related deterioration in cognition and motor control is caused in part by age-related neuroendocrine adjustments, menopause being the most prevalent of these adjustments. The loss of estrogen is accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep deprivation, and bone thinning. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has served as a method of relief, but due to increased risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease with HRT, phytoestrogen supplements are becoming popular alternatives. Phytoestrogens are plant products that mimic the effects of estrogen. Currently, there is no regulation of these chemicals by the Food and Drug Administration and little research has been focused on their effects on the brain. We investigated the effects of phytoestrogens on motor coordination with the hypothesis that pharmacological doses would be neurotoxic to the aging brain. Twelve-month old female Sprague-Dawley rats were separated into two groups (n=12). The control group received a diet absent of any phytoestrogens while the experimental group was given a large dose of phytoestrogens (1,500 mg/1,800 calorie diet equivalent), about 10x the dose women using phytoestrogen supplements should consume. After two weeks, rats were tested in an inclined plane test to observe their posture and muscle control. We found that the control group was able to remain on the inclined plane at angles that were an average of 0.37 degrees larger than the experimental group. Closer examination of brain tissue from these animals will reveal if any neurological marker for brain damage such as extensive gliosis is predominantly found among the experimental treatment.

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Do Pharmacological Doses of Phytoestrogens Exert a Negative Effect on Motor Coordination in Aging Brains?

Age-related deterioration in cognition and motor control is caused in part by age-related neuroendocrine adjustments, menopause being the most prevalent of these adjustments. The loss of estrogen is accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep deprivation, and bone thinning. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has served as a method of relief, but due to increased risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease with HRT, phytoestrogen supplements are becoming popular alternatives. Phytoestrogens are plant products that mimic the effects of estrogen. Currently, there is no regulation of these chemicals by the Food and Drug Administration and little research has been focused on their effects on the brain. We investigated the effects of phytoestrogens on motor coordination with the hypothesis that pharmacological doses would be neurotoxic to the aging brain. Twelve-month old female Sprague-Dawley rats were separated into two groups (n=12). The control group received a diet absent of any phytoestrogens while the experimental group was given a large dose of phytoestrogens (1,500 mg/1,800 calorie diet equivalent), about 10x the dose women using phytoestrogen supplements should consume. After two weeks, rats were tested in an inclined plane test to observe their posture and muscle control. We found that the control group was able to remain on the inclined plane at angles that were an average of 0.37 degrees larger than the experimental group. Closer examination of brain tissue from these animals will reveal if any neurological marker for brain damage such as extensive gliosis is predominantly found among the experimental treatment.