According to a study published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, men with high levels of luteinising hormone (LH) had worse memory than those with lower levels.
Luteinising hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and controls the release of hormones including oestrogen in women and testosterone in men.
Lead author Zoë Hyde said while previous studies had found elevated LH levels in men with Alzheimer’s disease, this was the first time that an effect had been seen in healthy men.
“This is an important finding, because the association appears to be independent of testosterone levels, which are controlled by LH. We know that testosterone acts on the brain in a number of ways, but LH was thought to have no direct effect,” Ms Hyde said.
“This study provides new insight into how hormones affect the brain and reveals a potential target for Alzheimer’s disease drug therapies. However, more work is required before we can fully understand the role that LH plays in the brain.”
The groundbreaking research is part of the Health in Men Study that has been following a group of over 12 000 men aged 65 and over since 1996. It is the largest study of ageing men in Australia, and was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.