Progesterone and Alzheimer's Disease: Treatment Effect on Behavioral Tests in Transgenic Mice

Matthew Patrick McCaslin, The College of Wooster


Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a prolonged degeneration of both cognitive function and memory. The primary method of investigating Alzheimer's disease has been through the use of rodent models. Such a method allows for not only genetic manipulation but also the examination of potential pharmaceutical treatments. One promising treatment is hormone replacement therapy. The link between Alzheimer's disease and hormones became apparent when it was discovered that post menopausal women were more likely to develop Alzheimer's. Menopause disrupts the functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, resulting in decreased levels of estrogen, and elevated serum levels of luteinizing hormone. Luteinizing hormone has shown to have negative effects neurons, and contributes to the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Research has shown that treatment with progesterone has some neuroprotective properties. The current study examined the effect of progesterone treatment on Morris water maze, Y-maze, contextual fear conditioning, and a novel learning task utilizing a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Results showed no significant effect of progesterone treatment on any of the tasks. However transgenic controls did differ from wild type controls during the last trials of Morris water maze testing, indicating that Alzheimer's may not impair learning, but rather maximal levels of performance.