Group Mikkola

Women’s Health

Focus of this research program is in ageing women’s health and particularly with regard to cardiovascular disease and breast cancer prevention. Our studies can be divided into three distinct areas that support each other; basic research, epidemiological studies and clinical studies/trials.

Basic research:

Our interest is in adipose tissue steroid metabolism, related to breast cancer but also to both obesity and cardiovascular diseases. We have shown that adipose tissue could potentially act as a steroid hormone reservoir (such as estrone and estradiol fatty acyl esters) and synthesize active hormones in response to different stimuli. Furthermore, various adipose tissue depots (subcutaneous, visceral, breast) have different steroid metabolism. For our studies, we have developed very sensitive mass spectrometry methods for estrogens and their metabolites. We are currently developing similar mass spectrometry methods also for androgens.

Epidemiological studies:

Our epidemiological research team has established a very comprehensive data register with all Finnish postmenopausal hormone therapy users since 1994. In addition, we have collected various important cardiovascular end-points to evaluate cardiovascular risk among women using or stopping hormone therapy. We have also assessed other disease risks (breast cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease) associated with hormone therapy. Our most recent ongoing studies are in women with a history of pre-eclampsia and their risk for different cardiovascular end-points with or without the use of hormone therapy.

Clinical studies/trials:

We have studied postmenopausal women with or without hot flushes in a randomized hormone therapy trial. This trial has produced three doctoral thesis projects with novel information on hot flushes and vascular function. Our new trial on rapid or tapered discontinuation of hormone therapy assessing vascular function has just started in collaboration with University of Southern California, USA. This trial was designed based on our previous epidemiological study results.

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Matti J. Tikkanen, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus

Post-Doctoral Scientists:
Kishor Hadkhale, PhD
Päivi Rahkola-Soisalo, MD, PhD
Alexandra Robciuc, PhD

Graduate Students:
Hilla Ahola, Medical Student
Natalia Hetemäki, MD
Anna-Maija Itkonen Freitas, MD
Niko Vehmas, MD
Heli Siitonen, MD

Minttu Venetkoski, MD

Anne Ahmanheimo, Laboratory Nurse
Kirsti Räsänen, Laboratory Nurse

Itkonen Freitas A-M, Mentula M, Rahkola-Soisalo P, Tulokas S, Mikkola TS. TVT surgery versus Bulkamid injection for primary stress urinary incontinence: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Urology 203:372-378, 2020

Savolainen-Peltonen H, Vihma V, Leidenius M, Wang F, Turpeinen U, HämäläinenE, Tikkanen MJ, Mikkola TS. Breast adipose tissue estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal women with or without breast cancer. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 99: E2661-E2667, 2014.

Mikkola TS, Tuomikoski P, Lyytinen H, Korhonen P, Hoti F, Vattulainen P, Gissler M, Ylikorkala O. Increased cardiovascular mortality risk in women discontinuing postmenopausal hormone therapy. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 100: 4588-4594, 2015.

Vihma V, Wang F, Savolainen-Peltonen H, Turpeinen U, Hämäläinen E, Leidenius M, Mikkola TS, Tikkanen MJ. Quantitative determination of estrone by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in subcutaneous adipose tissue from the breast in postmenopausal women. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 155: 120-125, 2016.

Savolainen-Peltonen H, Vihma V, Wang F, Turpeinen U, Hämäläinen E, Haanpää M, Leidenius M, Tikkanen MJ, Mikkola TS. Estrogen biosynthesis in breast adipose tissue during menstrual cycle in women with and without breast cancer. Gynecological Endocrinology, 34:1039-1043, 2018.

Hetemäki N, Savolainen-Peltonen H, Tikkanen MJ, Wang F, Paatela H, Hämäläinen E, Turpeinen U, Haanpää M, Vihma V, Mikkola TS. Estrogen metabolism in abdominal subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue in postmenopausal women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 102:4588-4595, 2018.

Savolainen-Peltonen H, Rahkola-Soisalo P, Hoti F, Vattulainen P, Gissler M, Ylikorkala O, Mikkola TS. Use of postmenopausal hormone therapy and risk for Alzheimer’s disease: a case-control study. The BMJ, 364:I665, 2019.

Folkhälsan Research Foundation
EVO Governmental Grants
Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation
Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation

Mika Gissler, prof
Howard Hodis, prof., USC, USA
Esa Hämäläinen, prof.
Matti Jauhiainen, PhD
Vesa Olkkonen, prof.
Kirsi Pietiläinen, MD, PhD
Veera Vihma, MD, PhD


    • Tomi Mikkola

      MD, PhD, PI

    • Tel:
      +358 400 232 301

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    • Hanna Savolainen-Peltonen

      MD, PhD, co-PI

    • Contact