New radiotracer application may advance understanding of estrogen-related diseases

October 30, 2017

The scientists found a surprise, however, in the "geographical" (anatomical) distribution of aromatase in the brain. The highest levels of aromatase appeared in the thalamus and then the medulla, in a pattern that was consistent across all six subjects. This differs from what researchers have observed previously in animal studies, where aromatase is concentrated in smaller regions, principally the amygdala and preoptic areas.

"This started as a simple tool development study and now it's turned out to be much more interesting than that," Biegon said. "The question that's raised is what is aromatase doing in these particular brain regions?"

To answer this, Biegon and her colleagues have already begun studying a larger group of 30 subjects. They will examine differences in brain aromatase related to a range of factors including age, sex, personality, and memory. Beginning with healthy subjects and advancing to patients with specific conditions and diseases, they intend to study the role of estrogen in the brain with respect to disorders and diseases such as unusual aggression, breast cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

Source: DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory