Effects of estradiol supplementation on the brain transcriptome of old rhesus macaques maintained on an obesogenic diet

Rita Cervera-Juanes, Priscila Darakjian, Megan Ball, Steven G. Kohama, Henryk F. Urbanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Obesity, the cessation of ovarian steroids with menopause, and age are risk factors for mood disorders, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, immediate hormone therapy (HT) after menopause may have beneficial effects in different brain regions involved in memory and cognition. To more closely replicate the age, endocrine, and metabolic environment of obese postmenopausal women, either on or off HT, middle-aged female rhesus macaques were ovariectomized/hysterectomized (OvH) and maintained on a high-fat, high-sugar, obesogenic Western-style diet (WSD) for 30 months; half of the animals received HT immediately after OvH and half served as placebo controls. RNAseq of the occipital (OC) and prefrontal cortex (PFC), hippocampus (HIP), and amygdala (AMG) identified 293, 379, 505, and 4993 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), respectively. Pathway enrichment analysis identified an activation of neuroinflammation in OC and HIP, but an inhibition in the AMG with HT. Synaptogenesis, circadian rhythm, mitochondrial dysfunction, mTOR, glutamate, serotonin, GABA, dopamine, epinephrine/norepinephrine, glucocorticoid receptor signaling, neuronal NOS, and amyloid processing were exclusively enriched in AMG. As compared to the placebo control group, most of these signaling pathways are downregulated after HT, suggesting a protective effect of HT in OvH females under a WSD. Overall, our results suggest that a chronic obesogenic diet may induce a wide range of alterations in multiple signaling pathways that are linked to age-associated brain pathology and dementia. In these individuals, HT seems to have a protective effect against neuroinflammation, amyloid beta depositions, and tau tangle formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-252
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Brain
  • Estradiol
  • Rhesus macaque
  • Western-style diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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