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Impact of Menopause on Brain Functions

  • Alice Antonelli
  • Andrea Giannini
  • Marta Caretto
  • Tommaso SimonciniEmail author
  • Andrea R. Genazzani
Chapter

Abstract

Starting from birth, sex hormonal fluctuations mark the various phases of female life leading from puberty to menopause.

During the aging process, there are physiological, structural, and functional changes of the hypothalamus-hypophysis-gonadal axis that lead over time to reach the definitive menopausal state. At the central level (thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex, and cingulate gyrus), changes in hormone secretion and receptor reassignment determine, in part of the perimenopausal population, neurological symptoms such as mood and sleep disorders, Alzheimer disease, hot flushes, and migraine. The mainly implicated receptors have been identified in ER α and ER β; thanks to the link with sex hormones they lead to the activation of different pathways of response. Moreover, they allow the nervous system to modulate synapsis, neuronal plasticity, cell-cell communication, myelin organization and stability; they protect from oxygen deprivation, stroke, and Aβ- and glutamate-induced toxicities. A further proof could be what happens when women undergo surgical menopause (bilateral oophorectomy) before their natural aging process: neurological symptoms seem to have a sudden and severe onset. Nowadays numerous studies are emerging, able to precisely define the intrinsic causes of these changes, in a way to improve in the near future the postmenopausal quality of life.

Keywords

Menopause Brain Neurological symptoms 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice Antonelli
    • 1
  • Andrea Giannini
    • 1
  • Marta Caretto
    • 1
  • Tommaso Simoncini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrea R. Genazzani
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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