Molecular Pathways : Radiation-induced cognitive impairment.

Radiation Oncology, Wake Forest School of Medicine.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.19). 02/2013; 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.

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    ABSTRACT: The present report describes an animal model for examining the effects of radiation on a range of neurocognitive functions in rodents that are similar to a number of basic human cognitive functions. Fourteen male Long-Evans rats were trained to perform an automated intra-dimensional set shifting task that consisted of their learning a basic discrimination between two stimulus shapes followed by more complex discrimination stages (e.g., a discrimination reversal, a compound discrimination, a compound reversal, a new shape discrimination, and an intra-dimensional stimulus discrimination reversal). One group of rats was exposed to head-only X-ray radiation (2.3 Gy at a dose rate of 1.9 Gy/min), while a second group received a sham-radiation exposure using the same anesthesia protocol. The irradiated group responded less, had elevated numbers of omitted trials, increased errors, and greater response latencies compared to the sham-irradiated control group. Additionally, social odor recognition memory was tested after radiation exposure by assessing the degree to which rats explored wooden beads impregnated with either their own odors or with the odors of novel, unfamiliar rats; however, no significant effects of radiation on social odor recognition memory were observed. These data suggest that rodent tasks assessing higher-level human cognitive domains are useful in examining the effects of radiation on the CNS, and may be applicable in approximating CNS risks from radiation exposure in clinical populations receiving whole brain irradiation.
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    ABSTRACT: Background It has been long recognized that cranial irradiation used for the treatment of primary and metastatic brain tumor often causes neurological side-effects such as intellectual impairment, memory loss and dementia, especially in children patients. Our previous study has demonstrated that whole-brain irradiation (WBI) can cause cognitive decline in rats. Minocycline is an antibiotic that has shown neuroprotective properties in a variety of experimental models of neurological diseases. However, whether minocycline can ameliorate cognitive impairment induced by ionizing radiation (IR) has not been tested. Thus this study aimed to demonstrate the potential implication of minocycline in the treatment of WBI-induced cognitive deficits by using a rat model.Methods Sprague Dawley rats were cranial irradiated with electron beams delivered by a linear accelerator with a single dose of 20 Gy. Minocycline was administered via oral gavages directly into the stomach before and after irradiation. The open field test was used to assess the anxiety level of rats. The Morris water maze (MWM) was used to assess the spatial learning and memory of rats. The level of apoptosis in hippocampal neurons was measured using immunohistochemistry for caspase-3 and relative markers for mature neurons (NeuN) or for newborn neurons (Doublecortin (DCX)). Neurogenesis was determined by BrdU incorporation method.ResultsNeither WBI nor minocycline affected the locomotor activity and anxiety level of rats. However, compared with the sham-irradiated controls, WBI caused a significant loss of learning and memory manifest as longer latency to reach the hidden platform in the MWM task. Minocycline intervention significantly improved the memory retention of irradiated rats. Although minocycline did not rescue neurogenesis deficit caused by WBI 2 months post-IR, it did significantly decreased WBI-induced apoptosis in the DCX positive neurons, thereby resulting in less newborn neuron depletion 12 h after irradiation.Conclusions Minocycline significantly inhibits WBI-induced neuron apoptosis, leading to less newborn neurons loss shortly after irradiation. In the long run, minocycline improves the cognitive performance of rats post WBI. The results indicate a potential clinical implication of minocycline as an effective adjunct in radiotherapy for brain tumor patients.
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