Testosterone and brain function in women
Effects of testosterone on visuospatial function and verbal fluency in postmenopausal women: results from a functional magnetic resonance imaging pilot study.
This study aims to investigate the effects of testosterone on cognitive performance during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy estrogen-treated postmenopausal women.
This was an open-label study in which postmenopausal women on nonoral estrogen therapy were treated with transdermal testosterone for 26 weeks. Women performed tests of verbal fluency (number of words) and mental rotation (reaction time and accuracy) during pretreatment and posttreatment fMRI. Blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal intensity was measured during fMRI tasks.
Nine women with a mean (SD) age of 55.4 (3.8) years completed the study. Twenty-six weeks of testosterone therapy was associated with significant decreases in BOLD intensity during the mental rotation task in the right superior parietal, left inferior parietal, and left precuneus regions, and during the verbal fluency task in the left inferior frontal gyrus, left lingual gyrus, and medial frontal gyrus (all P < 0.05), with no change in task performance, accuracy, or speed.
Testosterone therapy is associated with reduced BOLD signal activation in key anatomical areas during fMRI verbal fluency and visuospatial tasks in healthy estrogen-treated postmenopausal women. Our interpretation is that testosterone therapy facilitates preservation of cognitive function with less neuronal recruitment.
Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2014 Apr 9. doi: 10.1111/cen.12459. [Epub ahead of print]
Transdermal Testosterone Improves Verbal Learning and Memory in Postmenopausal Women Not on Estrogen therapy.
The aim of this study was to examine the effects of testosterone on verbal learning and memory in postmenopausal women.
Randomised placebo-controlled trial in which participants were randomized (1:1) to transdermal testosterone gel 300mcg/ day, or identical placebo, for 26 weeks.
92 post-menopausal women aged 55-65 years, on no systemic sex hormone therapy.
The primary outcome was the score for the International Shopping List Task (ISLT) of CogState. Secondary outcomes included other CogState domains, the Psychological General Well-Being Index (PGWB) and safety variables.
89 women, median age 60 years, were included in the primary analysis. Testosterone treatment resulted in statistically significantly better performance for the ISLT (improved verbal learning and memory) compared with placebo, adjusted for age and baseline score (mean difference 1·57; 95%CI 0·13, 3·01) p=0.03). There were no significant differences for other CogState domains or the PGWB scores. At 26 weeks, the median total testosterone was 1·7 nmol/L (interquartile range (IQR) 1·1, 2·4) in the testosterone group and 0·4nmol/L (IQR 0·3, 0·5) in the placebo group.
The small but statistically significant effect of testosterone treatment on verbal learning and memory in postmenopausal women provides the basis for further clinical trials.
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Testosterone, postmenopausal women, verbal learning