Although reproductive hormones are implicated in cerebral small vessel disease in women, few studies consider measured hormones in relation to white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV), a key indicator of cerebral small vessel disease. Even fewer studies consider estrone (E1), the primary postmenopausal estrogen, or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), an indicator of ovarian age. We tested associations of estradiol (E2), E1, and FSH to WMHV among women.
Two hundred twenty-two women (mean age = 59) underwent hormone assays (E1, E2, FSH) and 3T brain magnetic resonance imaging. Associations of hormones to WMHV were tested with linear regression.
Higher E2 (B[standard error (SE)] = –0.17[0.06], P = 0.008) and E1 (B[SE] = –0.26[0.10], P = 0.007) were associated with lower whole-brain WMHV, and higher FSH (B[SE] = 0.26[0.07], P = 0.0005) with greater WMHV (covariates age, race, education). When additionally controlling for cardiovascular disease risk factors, associations of E1 and FSH to WMHV remained.
Reproductive hormones, particularly E1 and FSH, are important to women’s cerebrovascular health.

Despite widespread belief that sex hormones are important to women’s brain health, little work has considered how these hormones in women relate to white matter hyperintensities (WMH), a major indicator of cerebral small vessel disease.
We considered relations of estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to WMH in midlife women.
Higher E2 and E1 were associated with lower whole-brain WMH volume (WMHV), and higher FSH with higher whole-brain WMHV.
Associations of E1 and FSH, but not E2, to WMHV persisted with adjustment for cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Findings underscore the importance of E2 and FSH to women’s cerebrovascular health.

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This post is Copyright: Rebecca C. Thurston,
Yuefang Chang,
Minjie Wu,
Emma M. Harrison,
Howard J. Aizenstein,
Carol A. Derby,
Emma Barinas‐Mitchell,
Pauline M. Maki | July 1, 2024

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