Effects of cancer therapies on the brain : from molecular mechanisms to behavioral outcomes

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Kovalchuk, Anna
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Neuroscience
Based on the most recent estimates by the Canadian Cancer Society, two in five Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes. There is mounting evidence that anti-cancer radiation and chemotherapy cause central nervous system side-effects, including declines in cognitive function, memory, and attention. The mechanisms of these effects are not well understood. Here, we investigated the molecular and cellular effects of two main anti-cancer treatment modalities—radiation therapy and chemotherapy—on the brain using established experimental rodent models. Using a rat model, we showed that radiation therapy-like exposures cause molecular and cellular changes in the brain and impacts animal behavior. Using a mouse model, we also determined that the cytotoxic chemotherapy agents cyclophosphamide and mitomycin C induce oxidative DNA damage and impact molecular and epigenetic processes in the brain. Our results may be used to develop new strategies and interventions to prevent and mitigate radiation and chemotherapy effects on the brain.
brain , behavior , radiation therapy , chemotherapy , epigenetics