Estrogen, Cognitive Performance, and Functional Imaging Studies: What Are We Missing About Neuroprotection?

Ivanny Carolina Marchant, Stéren Chabert, Jonathan Martínez-Pinto, Ramón Sotomayor-Zárate, Ricardo Ramírez-Barrantes, Lilian Acevedo, Claudio Córdova, Pablo Olivero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Menopause transition can be interpreted as a vulnerable state characterized by estrogen deficiency with detrimental systemic effects as the low-grade chronic inflammation that appears with aging and partly explains age-related disorders as cancer, diabetes mellitus and increased risk of cognitive impairment. Over the course of a lifetime, estrogen produces several beneficial effects in healthy neurological tissues as well as cardioprotective effects, and anti-inflammatory effects. However, clinical evidence on the efficacy of hormone treatment in menopausal women has failed to confirm the benefit reported in observational studies. Unambiguously, enhanced verbal memory is the most robust finding from longitudinal and cross-sectional studies, what merits consideration for future studies aiming to determine estrogen neuroprotective efficacy. Estrogen related brain activity and functional connectivity remain, however, unexplored. In this context, the resting state paradigm may provide valuable information about reproductive aging and hormonal treatment effects, and their relationship with brain imaging of functional connectivity may be key to understand and anticipate estrogen cognitive protective effects. To go in-depth into the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying rapid-to-long lasting protective effects of estrogen, we will provide a comprehensive review of cognitive tasks used in animal studies to evaluate the effect of hormone treatment on cognitive performance and discuss about the tasks best suited to the demonstration of clinically significant differences in cognitive performance to be applied in human studies. Eventually, we will focus on studies evaluating the DMN activity and responsiveness to pharmacological stimulation in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number866122
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2022


  • cognitive performance
  • cognitive task
  • estrogen (17β-estradiol)
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • neuroprotection
  • rapid effects of steroids
  • resting state—fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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