Evaluations of memory, anxiety, and the growth factor IGF-1R after post-surgical menopause treatment with a highly selective progestin

Victoria E. Bernaud, Stephanie V. Koebele, Steven N. Northup-Smith, Mari N. Willeman, Charlotte Barker, Alex Schatzki-Lumpkin, Maria Valenzuela Sanchez, Heather A. Bimonte-Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Progestogens are a key component of menopausal hormone therapies. While some progestogens can be detrimental to cognition, there is preclinical evidence that progestogens with a strong progesterone-receptor affinity benefit some molecular mechanisms believed to underlie cognitive function. Thus, a progestin that maximizes progesterone-receptor affinity and minimizes affinities to other receptors may be cognitively beneficial. We evaluated segesterone-acetate (SGA), a 19-norprogesterone derivative with a strong progesterone-receptor affinity and no androgenic or estrogenic-receptor activity, hypothesizing that it would enhance cognition. Middle-aged rats underwent Sham or Ovariectomy (Ovx) surgery followed by administration of medroxyprogesterone-acetate (MPA; used as a positive control as we have previously shown MPA-induced cognitive deficits), SGA (low or high dose), or vehicle (one Sham and one Ovx group). Spatial working and reference memory, delayed retention, and anxiety-like behavior were assessed, as were memory- and hormone- related protein assays within the frontal cortex, dorsal hippocampus, and entorhinal cortex. Low-dose SGA impaired spatial working memory, while high-dose SGA had a more extensive detrimental impact, negatively affecting spatial reference memory and delayed retention. Replicating previous findings, MPA impaired spatial reference memory and delayed retention. SGA, but not MPA, alleviated Ovx-induced anxiety-like behaviors. On two working memory measures, IGF-1R expression correlated with better working memory only in rats without hormone manipulation; any hormone manipulation or combination of hormone manipulations used herein altered this relationship. These findings suggest that SGA impairs spatial cognition after surgical menopause, and that surgical menopause with or without progestin administration disrupts relationships between a growth factor critical to neuroplasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114442
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Jun 25 2023


  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Ovariectomy
  • Progestin
  • Rat
  • WRAM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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