The structure and function of the brain is influenced by the context of people’s lives, especially sex and gender. These influences include hormones and genes, as well as culture, social environment and personal life experiences. In turn, these factors can influence our health and successful aging.
In this project we are studying potential brain changes in women who no longer make an important estrogen: 17-beta estradiol. We are doing this in young women who carry the BRCA gene mutation which is linked to a higher risk of inherited breast and ovarian cancer. Women who carry one of these genes may choose to have preventive removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries to reduce their cancer risk. This is called a Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy (BSO).
Specifically, we want to determine whether levels of certain hormones (including estrogens and progestogens) have an influence on brain regions involved in memory and attention after BSO. Using imaging technology, we will determine if there are any observable effects that occur in the brain as a result of oophorectomy.
We also have sites for this study in Linköping, Sweden and are establishing one in Montreal. At the Linköping site we have added immune system assays as well as qualitative interviewing. At the Montreal site we are adding measures of stress.
It is critically important for the brain health of all women to understand the affects of estrogens or estrogen withdrawal on young women’s brains.
Information gained from this study will be useful for women who are considering having preventive surgery in the future, as well as for women who have already elected to have this procedure. We aim for the results of this study to spur innovation in therapeutics and in methods for imaging the ovaries.
We are currently recruiting study participants who meet these criteria:
- Woman between the ages of 30 and 56
- Able to speak English and understand neuropsychological tests administered in English.
- Confirmed carrier of either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Have or have not yet had bi-lateral salpingo oophorectomy (BSO) prior to natural menopause
For information about participating, please contact our study coordinator, Laurice Karkaby, at 416-978-6582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.