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Pregnancy Hormone Could Help Brain Trauma Victims

Administering progesterone may help reduce swelling and improve memory in people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Neuroscience

Photo: Courtesy of Indiana University Health

The IU Health Neuroscience building in Indianapolis.

A hormone found in pregnant women might speed recovery from serious brain injuries. This is part of a study at Methodist Hospital at IU Health, hoping to combat brain trauma, which is very difficult for doctors to treat.

An experimental trial of the pregnancy hormone progesterone may help reduce swelling and improve memory in people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. It has shown promise according to Dr. Michael Turner, a neurosurgeon at Goodman Campbell Brain And Spine.

“This drug has virtually no side effects, even when you give it to a man it doesn‘t cause low blood pressure, it doesn‘t cause liver problems, doesn‘t cause kidney problems, it doesn‘t cause heart rhythm problems,” he says.

Turner says other sex hormones have been widely accepted by doctors to have some impact on the brain.

“It‘s sort of in the same chemical class as testosterone and it surely is a sexual hormone but this has relatively unique properties,” he says.

For example, in men, exercise releases testosterone which has shown to slow brain degeneration as men grow older. Turner says something similar may happen with progesterone, something he and other doctors hope to learn more about as their study continues.

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