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From the article:

Cyclic administration of estrogen might be inferior to continuous or no administration in terms of improving memory functions.

Researchers removed the ovaries of 32 middle-aged mice before starting them on various courses of HT lasting three months. A continuous group received estrogen injections daily, a cyclical group was administered estrogen every four days, and a control group received daily injections with no estrogen.

After three months, the mice underwent a variety of cognitive tests. […] Mice were tested every day for two weeks for both spatial reference memory (long-term memory for information that did not change during the test session) and working memory (short-term memory for information that changed in each trial).

Mice on the cyclical regimen made more reference and working memory errors than control mice. The cyclical group also made more reference memory errors than mice receiving continuous estrogen.

Another test focused on object recognition, a type of nonspatial memory. […] Because mice have a natural tendency to explore novel objects, mice with good memory for the original objects should spend more time examining the new object. Again, mice in the control and continuous groups outperformed the cyclical HT mice.

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Estrogen may promote neuron repair and improve neuronal function.

Other researchers studied the effects of continuous versus no administration of HT. Investigators removed the ovaries of mice aged 8 to 12 weeks and either treated them with continuous estrogen for 47 days or did not treat them with estrogen. Researchers then sacrificed the mice at different time periods after estrogen exposure (at 5, 14, 28, and 47 day intervals) and examined them for the production of the proteins associated with neuron repair and the formation of contacts between neurons.


After five days on estrogen, the estrogen-treated mice produced more of the proteins important for repair and neuronal function. However, with prolonged, continuous estrogen treatment, this effect diminished, and by day 47 the estrogen-treated mice were similar to the non-estrogen-treated mice in levels of the repair proteins. In addition, at the end of the experiment, mice that did not receive estrogen showed an elevation of a brain protein associated with the negative aspects of brain aging, while estrogen-treated mice did not.

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Progesterone may be detrimental to learning and increase short-term memory deficits in aged rats.

Thirty rats were used in the study. Ten rats kept their ovaries, and twenty rats had their ovaries removed. The ovariectomized rats were then divided into two groups: those receiving progesterone and a control group that did not receive progesterone.

As in the Yale study, a water maze was used to test working and reference memory. The maze difficulty was changed at increasing rates, forcing the rats to remember greater amounts of information. The rats receiving progesterone exhibited deficiencies in learning and remembering the maze. In addition, rats treated with progesterone also showed problems remembering many items of information, while untreated rats were able to successfully remember the items.

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Progesterone may inhibit neuroprotective effects of estrogen

In the first experiment, levels of beta-amyloid protein were evaluated after a six-week period of hormone treatment. Higher levels of beta-amyloid protein were observed in the hormone-depleted rats compared with control animals. The group receiving estrogen did not experience an increase in levels of beta-amyloid. For the rats receiving the combination of estrogen and progesterone, although progesterone failed to decrease beta-amyloid levels, it did not alter the ability of the estrogen treatment to reduce beta-amyloid levels.

In the second study, rats were treated with a mild dose of neurotoxin after two weeks of hormone treatment. The hormone-depleted rats experienced the greatest amount of neuronal death. In estrogen-treated rats a protective effective against neuronal death was observed, while rats treated with estrogen and progesterone in combination did exhibit neuronal death, suggesting that progesterone inhibited the neuroprotective action of estrogen in this model.

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