Poster Presentation Joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of NZ and the Nutrition Society of Australia

Is cognitive impairment in postmenopausal women attributable to poor cerebral perfusion? Baseline results of the resFem study (#P17)

Hamish Evans 1 , Rachel Wong 1 , Peter Howe 1
  1. Clinical Nutrition Research Centre, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Aim/Background: Postmenopausal women suffer disproportionately from dementia, which we hypothesise may be partly attributable to loss of cerebrovascular benefits of estrogen. We are currently testing whether a 14 week supplementation with resveratrol (a phytoestrogen) can improve cerebral perfusion and cognition in postmenopausal women. Herein, we present baseline evaluation of these parameters.

Methods: Eighty postmenopausal women aged 45-85 years underwent cognitive testing; domains of executive function, semantic, verbal and visuo-spatial working memory were scored individually and as a composite. Transcranial Doppler ultrasound was used to record basal blood flow velocity in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) and a pulsatility index (PI), reflecting stiffness of the vessel, was calculated. Cerebrovascular responsiveness (CVR) to the cognitive testing, which reflects the ability of a brain region to vasodilate in response to demands, was expressed as the percentage change in mean blood flow velocity from the basal level recorded for 30 sec before tests to the peak velocity attained during testing

Results: Using Pearson’s correlation, we found that the composite cognitive score correlated with PI (r=-0.291, P=0.017), the basal mean blood flow velocity (r=0.34, P=0.005) and CVR to the test battery (r=0.301, P=0.017) in the MCA.

Conclusion: Our baseline assessment of postmenopausal women shows that cognitive performance is linked to cerebrovascular function, at rest and during activation. Therefore, optimising cerebral perfusion may help to attenuate cognitive decline in this at-risk population.

Funding source: Hunter Medical Research Institute3D Healing Project Grant.