Background: Hormonal and metabolic changes associated with the menopause may confer increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Data indicate that the postmenopausal period is associated with increases in total and central (""""""""android"""""""") body fat; increases in the atherogenic components of the blood lipid profile; and deterioration of glucose tolerance - all risk factors for CVD. Changes in lipid and glucose metabolism may be secondary to accumulation of central fat, particularly intra-abdominal fat (IAF), the compartment associated with dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. Hormone replacement therapy has positive effects on the lipid profile in postmenopausal women, and may affect regional fat deposition. However the extent to which the beneficial effects of hormone therapy on disease risk factors are mediated by changes in fat distribution is not known. Few studies have examined the effects of hormone replacement therapy on body composition and fat distribution, and none have examined the effect of exogenous hormones on IAF, the adipose compartment most closely associated with disease rise. Objective: To test the hypothesis that hormone replacement therapy (HRT, combined estrogen-progestin) in postmenopausal women decreases disease risk by limiting IAF deposition. The proposed research will examine the effect of HRT on total, regional, and intra-abdominal fat deposition, and on the relationships between adiposity, the plasma lipid profile, and glucose metabolism. Design: Longitudinal cohort study of 140 early post:menopausal women using or not using HRT. A baseline assessment (within the first year of hormone use) and one two-year follow-up assessment will be conducted. Total body fat will be assessed with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, hydrodensitometry, and deuterium dilution; and regional adiposity (thigh, abdominal, intra-abdominal) will be quantified with computed tomography. Circulating levels of total cholesterol, high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides will be determined. Insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance will be assessed with the tolbutamide- modified, frequently-sampled, intravenous, glucose tolerance test and minimal modeling. Significance: HRT reduces risk and incidence of CVD in postmenopausal women. This study will determine if HRT reduces disease risk by influencing fat distribution and decreasing IAF.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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National Institute on Aging Initial Review Group (NIA)
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Schools of Allied Health Profes
United States
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