Estrogen may have a beneficial effect on the risk and course of Alzheimer's disease (AD) through several mechanisms, including improvement of cerebral blood flow, stimulation of the neuron, or gliacyte and interaction with genetic factors. In this paper, the therapeutic and etiologic research of the role of estrogen in cognitive function and dementia is reviewed. Findings to date are promising but far from conclusive. In therapeutic research, interpretation of studies is hampered by the small sizes of the studies and differences in methodology. Most etiological studies have been limited to retrospective studies in which the history of estrogen use was obtained from an informant. Follow-up studies conducted to date have yielded controversial results. Further research is needed to elucidate the role of estrogen in the pathogenesis and progression of dementia. Subjects genetically susceptible for AD may prove to be an important high-risk group to target in preventive, therapeutic and etiologic research.

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Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

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