Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Chemo drugs for treating breast cancer may cause changes in cognitive function

But changes are relatively mild

A new study investigating the effects of chemotherapy on cognitive function in mice has confirmed what many cancer patients receiving treatment have often complained about – a decline in their memory and other cognitive functions, sometimes characterized as "chemobrain".

The study, led by Dr. Gordon Winocur of the Baycrest Research Centre for Aging and the Brain, in collaboration with Drs. Ian Tannock and Janette Vardy of Princess Margaret Hospital, was conducted at Trent University. The findings are published in the September 2006 issue of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior (Vol. 85, Issue 1), which will be available online in the next week. The results were presented at a workshop held in conjunction with the 8th World Congress of Psycho-Oncology in Venice last week.

"In our study, we identified learning and memory deficits in the mild to moderate range in the drug-treated mice compared to the controls," says Dr. Winocur.

"That the deficits were relatively small is encouraging. It's important that cancer patients continue with these drugs and know that if they experience mild to moderate impairments in their cognitive functions, this level of change is potentially manageable."

While there is growing evidence from studies of cancer patients on chemotherapy that the chemobrain effect does exist, many of the studies have suffered from methodological limitations. These include small samples, less than adequate controls and failure to account for other factors, including disease-related complications and stress, which could affect performance.

This latest study, using an animal model, afforded researchers the opportunity to look at the direct effects of chemotherapy drugs on cognitive performance without interference from potentially confounding variables.

In the study, 25 healthy female mice were split into two groups: the drug treatment group received standard doses of methotrexate and 5-fluorouracil (5FU), two drugs widely used in women to prevent recurrence of breast cancer; and the control group received a saline solution. Both groups were given their treatments over three weeks.

One week after the final injection they were put through a series of spatial/non-spatial memory tests and conditional rule learning tests in a water maze. The behavioral tasks enabled investigators to assess various aspects of learning and memory associated with different brain regions. The drug treatment group scored lower on the spatial memory task (hippocampus) and the task requiring strategic and working memory components (frontal lobes), especially when there were long delay intervals, compared to the control group. The drug group was not impaired on a cued memory test or in discrimination learning, tasks that are not affected by selective damage to the frontal lobes or hippocampus.

"This indicates that the adverse effects of this treatment regimen of methotrexate and 5FU probably do not extend to all regions of the brain. It appears that the hippocampus and frontal lobes are primarily affected," says Dr. Winocur.

Because the behavioral testing was initiated two weeks after the last treatment and completed within four to five weeks, the study assessed only the short-term effects of the drugs. This is important because it raises the possibility that at longer treatment intervals there might have been some recovery of cognitive function, notes Dr. Winocur.

Kelly Connelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Cancer Winocur cognitive cognitive function effect

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>