Dose and delivery method impact cognitive outcome of Ethinyl Estradiol administration in the surgically menopausal rat

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Ethinyl estradiol, (EE) a synthetic, orally bio-available estrogen, is the most commonly prescribed form of estrogen in oral contraceptives (Shively, C., 1998), and is found in at least 30 different contraceptive formulations currently prescribed to women (Curtis et al., 2005).

Ethinyl estradiol, (EE) a synthetic, orally bio-available estrogen, is the most commonly prescribed form of estrogen in oral contraceptives (Shively, C., 1998), and is found in at least 30 different contraceptive formulations currently prescribed to women (Curtis et al., 2005). EE is also used in hormone therapies prescribed to menopausal women, such as FemhrtTM (Simon et al., 2003). Thus, EE is prescribed clinically to women at ages ranging from puberty through reproductive senescence. Here, in two separate studies, the cognitive effects of cyclic or tonic EE administration following ovariectomy (Ovx) were evaluated in young, female rats. Study I assessed the cognitive effects of low and high doses of EE, delivered tonically via a subcutaneous osmotic pump. Study II evaluated the cognitive effects of low, medium, and high doses of EE administered via a daily subcutaneous injection. For these studies, the low and medium doses correspond to the range of doses currently used in clinical formulations, and the high dose corresponds to the range of doses prescribed to a generation of women between 1960 and 1970, when oral contraceptives first became available. For each study, cognition was evaluated with a battery of maze tasks tapping several domains of spatial learning and memory. At the highest dose, EE treatment impaired multiple domains of spatial memory relative to vehicle treatment, regardless of administration method. When given cyclically at the low and medium doses, EE did not impact working memory, but transiently impaired reference memory during the learning phase of testing. Of the doses and regimens tested here, only EE at the highest dose impaired several domains of memory; this was seen for both cyclic and tonic regimens. Cyclic and tonic delivery of low EE, a dose that corresponds to doses used in the clinic today, resulted in transient and null impairments, respectively, on cognition.