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Cognitive changes across the menopause transition: a longitudinal evaluation of the impact of age and ovarian status on spatial memory

Description

Aging and the menopause transition are both intricately linked to cognitive changes

during mid-life and beyond. Clinical literature suggests the age at menopause onset can differentially impact cognitive status later in

Aging and the menopause transition are both intricately linked to cognitive changes

during mid-life and beyond. Clinical literature suggests the age at menopause onset can differentially impact cognitive status later in life. Yet, little is known about the relationship between behavioral and brain changes that occur during the transitional stage into the post-menopausal state. Much of the pre-clinical work evaluating an animal model of menopause involves ovariectomy in rodents; however, ovariectomy results in an abrupt loss of circulating hormones and ovarian tissue, limiting the ability to evaluate gradual follicular depletion. The 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide (VCD) model simulates transitional menopause in rodents by selectively depleting the immature ovarian follicle reserve and allowing animals to retain their follicle-deplete ovarian tissue, resulting in a profile similar to the majority of menopausal women. Here, Vehicle or VCD treatment was administered to ovary-intact adult and middle-aged Fischer-344 rats to assess the cognitive effects of transitional menopause via VCD-induced follicular depletion over time, as well as to understand potential interactions with age, with VCD treatment beginning at either six or twelve months of age. Results indicated that subjects that experience menopause onset at a younger age had impaired spatial working memory early in the transition to a follicle-deplete state. Moreover, in the mid- and post- menopause time points, VCD-induced follicular depletion amplified an age effect, whereby Middle-Aged VCD-treated animals had poorer spatial working and reference memory performance than Young VCD-treated animals. Correlations suggested that in middle age, animals with higher circulating estrogen levels tended to perform better on spatial memory tasks. Overall, these findings suggest that the age at menopause onset is a critical parameter to consider when evaluating learning and memory across the transition to reproductive senescence. From a translational perspective, this study informs the field with respect to how the age at menopause onset might impact cognition in menopausal women, as well as provides insight into time points to explore for the window of opportunity for hormone therapy during the menopause transition to attenuate age- and menopause- related cognitive decline, and produce healthy brain aging profiles in women who retain their ovaries throughout the lifespan.

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  • 2015

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Chronic unpredictable intermittent restraint stress disrupts hippocampal-dependent spatial memory in male, but not female rats

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The present series of studies examined whether a novel implementation of an

intermittent restraint (IR) chronic stress paradigm could be used to investigate hippocampal-dependent spatial ability in both sexes. In experiments

The present series of studies examined whether a novel implementation of an

intermittent restraint (IR) chronic stress paradigm could be used to investigate hippocampal-dependent spatial ability in both sexes. In experiments 1 and 2, Sprague- Dawley male rats were used to identify the optimal IR parameters to assess spatial ability. For IR, rats were restrained for 2 or 6hrs/day (IR2, IR6, respectively) for five days and then given two days off, a process that was repeated for three weeks and compared to rats restrained for 6hrs/d for each day (DR6) and non-stressed controls (CON). Spatial memory was tested on the radial arm water maze (RAWM), object placement (OP), novel object recognition (NOR) and Y-maze. The results for the first two experiments revealed that IR6, but not IR2, was effective in impairing spatial memory in male rats and that task order impacted performance. In experiment 3, an extended IR paradigm for six weeks was implemented before spatial memory testing commenced in male and female rats (IR- M, IR-F). Unexpectedly, an extended IR paradigm failed to impair spatial memory in either males or females, suggesting that when extended, the IR paradigm may have become predictable. In experiment 4, an unpredictable IR (UIR) paradigm was implemented, in which restraint duration (30 or 60-min) combined with orbital shaking, time of day, and the days off from UIR were varied. UIR impaired spatial memory in males, but not females. Together with other reports, these findings support the interpretation that chronic stress negatively impairs hippocampal-dependent function in males, but not females, and that females appear to be resilient to spatial memory deficits in the face of chronic stress.

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Date Created
  • 2019