Hot Flash Neurons
January 2, 2013
Scientists have identified neurons in the brain that trigger hot flashes during menopause.
BOB HIRSHON (host):
Menopuase on the mind. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Hot flashes are common during menopause. The uncomfortable flushing occurs when the brain senses a drop in the hormone estrogen. Now, scientists have identified the areas of the brain that trigger the flushing. University of Arizona neuroendocrinologists Melinda Mittelman, Naomi Rance, and their colleagues studied a group of cells called KNDY neurons, in the brain’s hypothalamus region. Rance says when they inactivated KNDY neurons in rats, they shut down vasodilation, which causes the skin to turn hot and red.
NAOMI RANCE (University of Arizona):
You get rid of them, you have low vasodilation. KNDY neurons could contribute to the generation of flushes because flushes are vasodilation.
She says KNDY neurons were well-known for playing a role in reproduction, but no one knew they were involved in temperature regulation until now. The research could pave the way for better treatments for hot flashes. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.