Estrogen, estrogen-like drugs' ability to protect brain after stroke under study


"We think free radicals are either turning on some of these kinases or these kinases are inducing the production of free radicals," he says. "There is a link between them and we are trying to figure out that link. Our hypothesis is that free radicals are inducing several of the key death kinases."

In a stroke animal model, he's analyzing the activity of known pro-death and pro-life kinases in the brain in the hours after stroke as well as the usual levels in a healthy brain. And, he's looking at whether estrogen and/or estrogen-like compounds can regulate pro-death and pro-life kinases in a beneficial way after injury.

"We are studying the kinases that are turned off, trying to characterize what are the pro-death and pro-life kinases turned on in stroke and the effect of estrogen, tamoxifen and raloxifene upon these kinases." He notes his studies are looking at whether these substances protect neurons after stroke, not whether they reduce stroke risk. The Women's Health Initiative, a 15-year study of more than 161,000 women by the National Institute of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, showed that hormone replacement therapy, touted for its ability to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in postmenopausal women, appears to increase the risk of those conditions. While Dr. Brann and others still question some aspects of the study, possible ill effects of estrogen led him to include in his studies the estrogen-like drugs called SERMs, which act like estrogen in some tissues and as an anti-estrogen in others. These include tamoxifen, used to treat breast cancer and to reduce breast cancer risk in high-risk women by blocking the estrogen receptors found on most breast cancer cells, and raloxifene, which works like estrogen to keep bones strong but works as an estrogen agonist to protect the breasts.

Despite the interest in these compounds, their function in the brain has not been well studied. By underst

Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia

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