Backgrounds: The Women's Health Initiative Memory Study Magnetic Resonance Imaging (WHIMS-MRI) provides an opportunity to evaluate how menopausal hormone therapy (HT) affects the structure of older women's brains. Our earlier work based on region of interest (ROI) analysis demonstrated potential structural changes underlying adverse effects of HT on cognition. However, the ROI-based analysis is limited in statistical power and precision, and cannot provide fine-grained mapping of whole-brain changes. Methods: We aimed to identify local structural differences between HT and placebo groups from WHIMS-MRI in a whole-brain refined level, by using a novel method, named Optimally-Discriminative Voxel-Based Analysis (ODVBA). ODVBA is a recently proposed imaging pattern analysis approach for group comparisons utilizing a spatially adaptive analysis scheme to accurately locate areas of group differences, thereby providing superior sensitivity and specificity to detect the structural brain changes over conventional methods. Results: Women assigned to HT treatments had significant Gray Matter (GM) losses compared to the placebo groups in the anterior cingulate and the adjacent medial frontal gyrus, and the orbitofrontal cortex, which persisted after multiple comparison corrections. There were no regions where HT was significantly associated with larger volumes compared to placebo, although a trend of marginal significance was found in the posterior cingulate cortical area. The CEE-Alone and CEE+MPA groups, although compared with different placebo controls, demonstrated similar effects according to the spatial patterns of structural changes. Conclusions: HT had adverse effects on GM volumes and risk for cognitive impairment and dementia in older women. These findings advanced our understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of HT effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)