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Hormones May Affect Neurological Disease Risk

Women are more vulnerable during certain stages of life, study finds

TUESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Fluctuating hormone levels may explain trends in the timing of women's susceptibility to neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, Tourette's and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, new research suggests.

Significant estrogen level changes occur at various stages of women's lives, including adolescence and menopause, and as a result of menstrual cycles. The onset or exacerbation of neurological diseases are most likely to occur at these times, said researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

They found that a number of estrogens acting through their receptors affect the dopamine transporter (DAT). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays an important role in normal functioning of the central nervous system.

"The significance of estrogen-coupled regulation of the DAT by both direct and indirect (kinase-mediated) interactions between estrogen receptors and the DAT should provide insights into how neurological diseases which involve the DAT are related to developmental, gender and life-stage issues," study author Cheryl Watson said in a news release from BioMed Central.

"Such regulation may suggest new ideas about treatment and prevention of diseases associated with extreme hormonal fluctuations, such as in postpartum depression," she added.

The study was published online in the journal BMC Neuroscience.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke outlines neurological diagnostic tests and procedures.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, June 2009

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