Perhaps some of the most exciting research in this area is the effect progesterone, a sex hormone associated with females, elevated during pregnancy, but also present naturally in males, may have on protection of brain cells. Promising research shows that progesterone may have the potential to save brain tissue after an injury—potentially setting the stage for a first in class treatment to stop the loss of brain cells after a blast, altering the detrimental sequence of events that happen after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Differences have been seen in outcomes even as a function of monthly fluctuations of progesterone noted during the menstrual cycle. Progesterone can dramatically reduce brain swelling in males and females, can act as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, and can stimulate expression of growth factors in response to injury.
TBI is not the only area where innovative hormone diagnostics and research may contribute to improved health outcomes. Links between hormonal networks and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and complex wound healing, among others, recognize the importance of hormones, and the differences that will naturally present between men and women. Hormone levels can protect health or precipitate disease. Hormones matter.