Brain oestrogen shows promise as schizophrenia treatment

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Melbourne, May 17 (ANI): Experts have discovered a form of oestrogen that is effective in the reduction of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The lead researcher Jayashri Kulkarni, director of the Monash Alfred psychiatry research centre, believes the hormone will be effective in men too.

She led the use of standard oestrogen to treat schizophrenia after noticing that symptoms were more severe in premenstrual women.

The study confirmed that brain oestrogen had a similar effect to standard oestrogen in dramatically reducing schizophrenia symptoms, including psychosis, in post-menopausal women.

While standard oestrogen (oestrodiol) is effective in short bursts, long-term use presents an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive tumours in women, and would feminise men.

Other "hormonal cues" included a spike in the incidence of schizophrenia in women after giving birth, and in the lead-up to menopause, she said.

Professor Kulkarni found that oestrogen had similar effects on the brain's chemical messengers to some of the newer anti-psychotic medications.

Changes in the levels of these chemical messengers are thought to be involved in the symptoms of schizophrenia, such as delusions or hearing voices, reports the Age.

Brain oestrogen has proved successful in a clinical trial involving 20 Melbourne women, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

The study found that patients taking brain oestrogen (raloxifene hydrochloride) had a significant improvement in key schizophrenia symptoms including psychosis and showed enhanced memory and learning compared to those on lower doses or a placebo.

Researchers are still working in order to confirm the data and develop treatment options for younger women, and men. (ANI)

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