Acute effects of 17β-estradiol and genistein on insulin sensitivity and spatial memory in aged ovariectomized female rats.
Age (Dordr). 2010 Dec;32(4):421-34. Epub 2010 May 14. PMID: 20467821
Department of Functional Biology. Physiology Area, University of Oviedo, C/Julián Clavería s/n, 33006, Oviedo, Spain.
Aging is characterized by decline in metabolic function and insulin resistance, and both seem to be in the basis of neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive dysfunction. Estrogens prevent age-related changes, and phytoestrogens influence learning and memory. Our hypothesis was that estradiol and genistein, using rapid-action mechanisms, are able to modify insulin sensitivity, process of learning, and spatial memory. Young and aged ovariectomized rats received acute treatment with estradiol or genistein. Aged animals were more insulin-resistant than young. In each age, estradiol and genistein-treated animals were less insulin-resistant than the others, except in the case of young animals treated with high doses of genistein. In aged rats, no differences between groups were found in spatial memory test, showing a poor performance in the water maze task. However, young females treated with estradiol or high doses of genistein performed well in spatial memory task like the control group. Only rats treated with high doses of genistein showed an optimal spatial memory similar to the control group. Conversely, acute treatment with high doses of phytoestrogens improved spatial memory consolidation only in young rats, supporting the critical period hypothesis for the beneficial effects of estrogens on memory. Therefore, genistein treatment seems to be suitable treatment in aged rats in order to prevent insulin resistance but not memory decline associated with aging. Acute genistein treatment is not effective to restore insulin resistance associated to the early loss of ovarian function, although it can be useful to improve memory deficits in this condition.