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Brain Res. 2009 Apr 6;1264:13-23. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.01.014. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Effects of two years of conjugated equine estrogens on cholinergic neurons in young and middle-aged ovariectomized monkeys.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27106, USA.


The effect of estrogen on the number and size of cholinergic neurons in the basal forebrain was examined in surgically menopausal young and middle-aged cynomolgus monkeys. Young and middle-aged female monkeys were ovariectomized and treated with conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin) at doses that are equivalent to those currently prescribed to postmenopausal women. In the medial septum/diagonal band (MS/DB), no effect of treatment with Premarin was observed in the cholinergic neurons in either ovariectomized young or middle-aged monkeys. However, the number and size of cholinergic neurons in the MS/DB of middle-aged monkeys was greater than that in the young monkeys. In the nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM) of middle-aged monkeys, the number of cholinergic neurons in the intermediate region (Ch4i) was greater in Premarin-treated monkeys as compared to controls and numbers of neurons in this region were greater at higher levels of estrogen. No effects of estrogen were observed in other NBM regions in the middle-aged monkeys and the size of cholinergic neurons was unaffected by Premarin. These findings suggest that treatment with Premarin has selective beneficial effects on cholinergic neurons in the basal forebrain but that these effects are both age and region specific.

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