Effects of combined estrogen and progesterone on brain infarction in reproductively senescent female rats

Thomas J. Toung, Tsung Ying Chen, Marguerite T. Littleton-Kearney, Patricia D. Hurn, Stephanie J. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Recent data from the Women's Health Initiative have highlighted many fundamental issues about the utility and safety of long-term estrogen use in women. Current hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women incorporates progestin with estrogen, but it is uncertain if combined therapy provides major cerebrovascular risks or benefits to these women. No experimental animal stroke studies have examined combined hormone administration. The authors tested the hypothesis that combined hormone treatment reduces ischemic injury in middle-aged female rat brain. Reproductively senescent female rats underwent 2-hour middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) followed by 22 hours reperfusion. Estrogen implants were placed subcutaneously at least 7 days before MCAO, and progesterone intraperitoneal injections were given 30 minutes before MCAO, at initiation, and at 6 hours of reperfusion. Rats received no hormone, a 25-μg estrogen implant, a 25-μg estrogen implant plus 5 mg/kg intraperitoneal progesterone, or 5 mg/kg intraperitoneal progesterone. Cortical, caudoputamen, and total infarct volumes were assessed by 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining and digital image analysis at 22 hours reperfusion. Cortical and total infarct volumes, except in the acute progesterone-treated group, were significantly attenuated in all estrogen-alone and combined hormone-treated groups. There were no significant differences in caudoputamen infarct volumes in all hormone-treated groups as compared with untreated rats. These data have potential clinical implications relative to stroke for postmenopausal women taking combined hormone replacement therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1166
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Estrogen
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Progesterone
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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