AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018


Why Women’s Stroke Risk Changes Post Menopause

According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism, women’s stroke risk may come down to a compound the body produces from estrogen, known as 2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME). The findings from the study help explain why the risk of stroke changes for post-menopausal women. The compound’s therapeutic potential may extend beyond treating stroke in women to also healing brain injuries in men. Prior to menopause, women have a lower risk of stroke compared to men. After menopause, women are at a higher risk. “Our study shows that microglia can metabolize (change) estradiol into 2-ME. So the female advantage before menopause may be in part the result of microglia making 2-ME from estradiol. Once estradiol levels collapse with menopause, the female advantage is lost. Administration of 2-ME could restore the female advantage,” said the study’s lead author. Microglia, the immune cells of the brain, maintain the brain and protect it from infection by consuming damaged cells and bacteria — a process called phagocytosis — and releasing toxic molecules to induce injured cells and bacteria to die. However, the use of 2-ME is not limited to women. “Although 2-ME is derived from estradiol, 2-ME is not estrogenic and can be used in both women and men,” researchers noted. Therefore, because 2-ME “calms” microglia, it may be useful in treating or preventing other brain injuries, including traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. To read more about this study, click here.  

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