Neurological sciences : official journal of the Italian Neurological Society and of the Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology 2017 11 16() doi 10.1007/s10072-017-3165-5
The changing hormonal milieu during the menopausal transition may contribute to the development of memory disorders. We aimed to assess the association of sex hormones with memory function in a sample of Greek middle-aged women. This pilot study included 44 women with subjective memory complaints. Memory performance was evaluated using the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test (HVLT), the Brief Visuospatial Memory test (BVMT), and the verbal digits backwards test (VSPAN), to assess verbal, visuospatial, and working memory performance, respectively. Menopausal symptoms were assessed using the Green Climacteric Scale. VSPAN backwards scores were positively associated with log-transformed free androgen index (logFAI), in models adjusted for age, education, log-transformed free estrogen index (logFEI), hypertension, and the intensity of menopausal symptoms. BVMT total scores were predicted by logFAI (b-coefficient = 0.424, p value = 0.002), education, and combined climacteric symptomatology, in a model adjusted for age, logFEI, and hypertension. Women with circulating estradiol above the median value of 10 pg/mL had better total HTLV total scores compared to women with estradiol values below the median (HTLV total scores, estradiol ≤ 10 pg/mL vs. > 10 pg/mL: 24.2 ± 3.6 vs. 30.0 ± 7.9, p value = 0.007 unadjusted). This association was affected by education and remained independent of menopausal symptoms and testosterone levels, education, and hypertension (model R (2) = 22.3%; b-coefficient = 0.318, p value = 0.024). Endogenous total estradiol is associated with verbal episodic memory, while logFAI is associated with working memory performance and visuospatial episodic memory in this sample of postmenopausal women. These associations were not influenced by age, education, or menopausal symptoms. Larger studies are necessary to evaluate the significance of our findings.