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Menopause, hormone therapy and cognition: maximizing translation from preclinical research

H A Bimonte-Nelson 1 2V E Bernaud 1 2S V Koebele 1 2

Climacteric doi: 10.1080/13697137.2021.1917538. 

Abstract

Menopause-associated and hormone-associated cognitive research has a rich history built from varied disciplines and species. This review discusses landmark rodent and human work addressing cognitive outcomes associated with varied experiences of menopause and hormone therapy. Critical variables in menopause and cognitive aging research are considered, including menopause etiology, background hormone milieu and parameters of exposure to estrogens and progestogens. Recent preclinical research has identified that menopause and ovarian hormone fluctuations across many neurobiological systems affect cognitive aging, mapping novel avenues for future research. Preclinical models provide insight into complex interdisciplinary relationships in a systematic and highly controlled fashion. We highlight that acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses for both preclinical and clinical research approaches is vital to accurate interpretation, optimal translation and the direction of future research. There is great value in collaboration and communication across preclinical and clinical realms, especially regarding reciprocal feedback of findings to advance preclinical models, improve experimental designs and enrich basic science translation to the clinic. In searching for biological mechanisms underlying the cognitive consequences of menopause and hormone therapies, it is noteworthy that clinical and preclinical scientists are grounded in the same fundamental goal of optimizing health outcomes for women across the lifespan.