Molecular Pathways: Radiation-Induced Cognitive Impairment

Radiation Oncology, Wake Forest School of Medicine.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.19). 02/2013; 19(9). DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-2903
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Approximately 200,000/year in the US will receive partial or whole brain irradiation for the treatment of primary or metastatic brain cancer. Early and delayed radiation effects are transient and reversible with modern therapeutic standards; yet late radiation effects (≥6 months postirradiation) remain a significant risk, resulting in progressive cognitive impairment. These include functional deficits in memory, attention, and executive function that severely affect the patient's quality of life (QOL). The mechanisms underlying radiation-induced cognitive impairment remain ill defined. Classically, radiation-induced alterations in vascular and glial cell clonogenic populations were hypothesized to be responsible for radiation-induced brain injury. Recently, preclinical studies have focused on the hippocampus, one of two sites of adult neurogenesis within the brain, which plays an important role in learning and memory. Radiation ablates hippocampal neurogenesis, alters neuronal function, and induces neuroinflammation. Neuronal stem cells implanted into the hippocampus prevent the decrease in neurogenesis and improve cognition following irradiation. Clinically prescribed drugs, including PPAR α and γ agonists, as well as RAS blockers, prevent radiation-induced neuroinflammation and cognitive impairment independent of improved neurogenesis. Translating these exciting findings to the clinic offers the promise of improving the QOL of brain tumor patients who receive radiotherapy.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Long-term toxic effects of prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) on cognition in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) patients have not yet been well-established. The aim of our study was to examine the cognitive toxic effects together with brain structural changes in a group of long-term SCLC survivors treated with PCI. Eleven SCLC patients, who underwent PCI ≥ 2 years before, were compared with an age and education matched healthy control group. Both groups were evaluated using a neuropsychological battery and multimodal structural magnetic resonance imaging. Voxel-based morphometry and Tract-based Spatial Statistics were used to study gray matter density (GMD) and white matter (WM) microstructural changes. Cognitive deterioration was correlated with GMD and Fractional Anisotropy (FA). Finally, we carried out a single-subject analysis in order to evaluate individual structural brain changes. Nearly half of the SCLC met criteria for cognitive impairment, all exhibiting a global worsening of cognitive functioning. Patients showed significant decreases of GMD in basal ganglia bilaterally (putamen and caudate), bilateral thalamus and right insula, together with WM microstructural changes of the entire corpus callosum. Cognitive deterioration scores correlated positively with mean FA values in the corpus callosum. Single-subject analysis revealed that GMD and WM changes were consistently observed in nearly all patients. This study showed neuropsychological deficits together with brain-specific structural differences in long-term SCLC survivors. Our results suggest that PCI therapy, possibly together with platinum-based chemotherapy, was associated to permanent long-term cognitive and structural brain effects in a SCLC population.
    Brain Imaging and Behavior 05/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11682-015-9393-5 · 3.39 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Cognitive impairments severely affect the quality of life of patients who undergo brain irradiation, and there are no effective preventive strategies. In this study, we examined the therapeutic potential of electroacupuncture (EA) administered immediately after brain irradiation in rats. We detected changes in cognitive function, neurogenesis, and synaptic density at different time points after irradiation, but found that EA could protect the blood-brain barrier (BBB), inhibit neuroinflammatory cytokine expression, upregulate angiogenic cytokine expression, and modulate the levels of neurotransmitter receptors and neuropeptides in the early phase. Moreover, EA protected spatial memory and recognition in the delayed phase. At the cellular/molecular level, the preventative effect of EA on cognitive dysfunction was not dependent on hippocampal neurogenesis; rather, it was related to synaptophysin expression. Our results suggest that EA applied immediately after brain irradiation can prevent cognitive impairments by protecting against the early changes induced by irradiation and may be a novel approach for preventing or ameliorating cognitive impairments in patients with brain tumors who require radiotherapy.
    PLoS ONE 04/2015; 10(4):e0122087. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0122087 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Radiation therapy to the brain is a powerful tool in the management of many cancers, but it is associated with significant and irreversible long-term side effects, including cognitive decline and impairment of motor coordination. Depletion of oligodendrocyte progenitors and demyelination are major pathological features that are particularly pronounced in younger individuals and severely limit therapeutic options. Here we tested whether human ESC-derived oligodendrocytes can functionally remyelinate the irradiated brain using a rat model. We demonstrate the efficient derivation and prospective isolation of human oligodendrocyte progenitors, which, upon transplantation, migrate throughout the major white matter tracts resulting in both structural and functional repair. Behavioral testing showed complete recovery of cognitive function while additional recovery from motor deficits required concomitant transplantation into the cerebellum. The ability to repair radiation-induced damage to the brain could dramatically improve the outlook for cancer survivors and enable more effective use of radiation therapies, especially in children. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Cell Stem Cell 02/2015; 16(2):198-210. DOI:10.1016/j.stem.2015.01.004 · 22.15 Impact Factor