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Horm Behav. 1998 Oct;34(2):112-25.

Estrogen replacement attenuates effects of scopolamine and lorazepam on memory acquisition and retention.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, 1004 Salk Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15261, USA.


A multiple-trial passive avoidance paradigm was used to examine and compare the ability for estrogen replacement to attenuate learning and memory deficits produced by the muscarinic antagonist scopolamine and the benzodiazepine lorazepam. The multiple-trial paradigm was used in order to distinguish effects on acquisition from effects on retention. Estrogen replacement significantly attenuated a scopolamine-induced deficit on passive avoidance acquisition, but not retention. The ability for estrogen to attenuate the effect of scopolamine on acquisition was observed only when the analysis was limited to animals with serum levels of estradiol <200 pg/ml, suggesting that higher levels of estradiol were ineffective. This observation is consistent with at least one recent study showing dose-related effects of estrogen on ChAT-like immunoreactivity in the basal forebrain and supports the hypothesis that effects of estrogen on basal forebrain cholinergic neurons can help to reduce cognitive deficits associated with cholinergic impairment. Estrogen replacement was also observed to protect against a lorazepam-induced impairment on passive avoidance retention. This effect was observed specifically in animals that received estrogen prior to and during training and was not due to any effect of estrogen on serum levels of lorazepam following acute lorazepam administration. Collectively, these data demonstrate the ability for estrogen replacement to attenuate specific pharmacologically induced impairments in learning and retention and provide additional clues as to potential mechanisms by which estrogen replacement may help to reduce cognitive deficits associated with aging and Alzheimer's disease in postmenopausal women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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