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Horm Behav. 2013 Feb;63(2):222-30. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.06.002. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

Revisiting the timing hypothesis: biomarkers that define the therapeutic window of estrogen for stroke.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, Women's Health in Neuroscience Program, Texas A&M Health Science Center, College Station, TX 77843-1114, USA.


Significantly extended life expectancy coupled with contemporary sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition has created a global epidemic of cardiovascular disease and stroke. For women, this issue is complicated by the discrepant outcomes of hormone therapy (HT) for stroke incidence and severity as well as the therapeutic complications for stroke associated with advancing age. Here we propose that the impact of estrogen therapy cannot be considered in isolation, but should include age-related changes in endocrine, immune, and nucleic acid mediators that collaborate with estrogen to produce neuroprotective effects commonly seen in younger, healthier demographics. Due to their role as modulators of ischemic cell death, the post-stroke inflammatory response, and neuronal survival and regeneration, this review proposes that Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF)-1, Vitamin D, and discrete members of the family of non-coding RNA peptides called microRNAs (miRNAs) may be crucial biochemical markers that help determine the neuroprotective "window" of HT. Specifically, IGF-1 confers neuroprotection in concert with, and independently of, estrogen and failure of the insulin/IGF-1 axis is associated with metabolic disturbances that increase the risk for stroke. Vitamin D and miRNAs regulate and complement IGF-1 mediated function and neuroprotective efficacy via modulation of IGF-1 availability and neural stem cell and immune cell proliferation, differentiation and secretions. Together, age-related decline of these factors differentially affects stroke risk, severity, and outcome, and may provide a novel therapeutic adjunct to traditional HT practices.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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