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2007 Grant - Singh
Progestin-Regulated Neurotrophin Synthesis and Release in Neuroprotection
Meharvan Singh, Ph.D.
University of North Texas Health Science Center
Fort Worth, Texas
2007 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Research suggests that post-menopausal women are at increased risk for age-related cognitive decline. While some studies have indicated that hormone replacement therapy can protect against such brain dysfunction in post-menopausal women, more recent analysis has questioned that premise. This has left clinicians and patients alike wondering if hormone replacement therapy is a valuable means of maintaining brain health.
Meharvan Singh, Ph.D., and colleagues believe that the discrepancy in the data may be due to the use of different types of progestin. In studies that show no effect on brain function, a synthetic form of progestin called "medroxyprogesterone acetate" (MPA) was used. Singh proposes that this progestin lacks some of the neuroprotective properties of natural progesterone.
The researchers will test this hypothesis by measuring the ability of both progesterone and MPA to promote the synthesis and release of nerve growth factor and brain-derived growth factor, two potent neuroprotective molecules. The researchers question if the synthesis and release of these "neurotrophins" are regulated by different progesterone receptors. They will use cultured cells to test the theory that while progesterone can promote both the synthesis and release of the neurotrophins, MPA only affects one or the other. This study will help researchers understand the effects of progesterones on neurobiology and may help resolve whether hormone replacement therapy is a viable approach to treating age-related neurologic decline.