Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Chemobrain"

"Chemobrain"
Image result for chemo brain

I’m sure almost everyone reading this knows someone who is currently being, or has been, treated for cancer using chemotherapy. There are terrible side effects that can occur during treatment that can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sores, weight changes, and mood changes. What you may not know, are some of the effects that chemotherapy can have on the patient even after it is over. “Chemobrain” is the cognitive impairment that effects up to one third of cancer patients after chemotherapy is finished. This is a relatively new thing that doctors decided to research because patients were complaining about it. It is still scientifically debated whether this is a real side effect of chemotherapy or not, though many patients would argue that it is. Symptoms of “chemobrain” include visual and verbal memory loss (causing issues recalling conversations), attention deficit (causing issues paying attention to tasks), decline in processing speed, and trouble remembering words.

Serotonin is related to depression as well as cognitive function and can be significantly impacted by chemotherapy. In the model rats who received chemotherapy, scientists found a 42% decline in dopamine release and a 55% decline in serotonin release. Tests have only been done in model species such as rats, but these rats show that some biochemical markers of “chemobrain” include higher levels of hydrogen peroxide in the brain, and impaired release and uptake of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Higher levels of hydrogen peroxide in the brain could be potentially dangerous because it is a reactive oxygen and could cause issues with cognition. The neurotransmitter, dopamine, is present in many different parts of the brain, like the striatum. The striatum receives inputs from all over the brain, filtering unwanted inputs and amplifying wanted inputs. These inputs get translated into actions. So, decreases in dopamine could possibly affect cognition.
Image result for dopamine in the brain 



















A possible preventative treatment for declining cognition due to chemotherapy includes KU-32. KU-32 works by inducing heat shock response, protecting cells and possibly counteracting the damaging effects of hydrogen peroxide. In rats, it has been found to prevent cognitive decline caused by chemotherapy, possibly by preventing increases in hydrogen peroxide production in the brain. This drug is still very new and in the preliminary steps of research, but it is a good step forward in figuring out a way to prevent cognitive decline in chemotherapy patients. Patients already go through so many difficult things during their treatment, they do not need to continue to suffer afterwards, too. 

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Posted by Jordan Milone (C)

8 comments:

  1. It's very sad that cancer patients have to deal with the difficulties of going through treatment, and once they are in remission still have to deal with the side effects of the treatment. I think it's great that researchers are looking into the effects of chemotherapy so they can hopefully improve these side effects.
    Posted by Hannah Jordan (B)

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    1. It is a really sad occurrence. I also hope that researchers find a way to lessen the negative side effects of chemotherapy so that survivors can live the rest of their lives after chemotherapy peacefully.

      Posted by Jordan Milone (C)

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  2. This is something that I never heard about before. Everyone knows the most common side effects of cancer such as hair loss, but I personally didn't know it had any impact on our brain for whatever chemotherapy treatment one is undergoing. Hopefully more research is done on this because I'm surprised that this was a recently discovered side effect. I wonder what other potential side effects to chemotherapy there are but we just don't know yet.

    Posted by Andrew Do (Group A)

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    1. I know a lot of other people also haven't heard of it, which is why I wanted to write about it this week. I don't think a lot of patients are even aware that chemobrain is a thing, or at least doctors don't make it a point to tell them. It might be because they don't know a lot about it yet, but hopefully more research will shed some light on it and be able the help the patients who suffer from it.

      Posted by Jordan Milone (C)

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  3. Very unfortunate what cancer patients have to go through. Even worse, those who survive may still have the negative side effects of chemo. I'm fortunate enough that I personally don't know anyone with cancer and having to go through chemotherapy. I'm glad to read in your post that researchers are still attempting to find results.

    Posted By: Givenchy Humes (B)

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  4. I thought this post was really interesting. I know a couple of people who have gone through chemotherapy but I've never heard of chemobrain. It's sad to think that even after going through chemotherapy, many people still have to deal with some side effects after their treatment is finished. I was aware of many of the side effects that accompany chemotherapy, but before reading this post, I wasn't really aware of the effects chemotherapy has on the brain.

    Posted by: Katie Kossack (Group B)

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  5. It makes logical sense that chemotherapy has a neurochemical impact on the brain - it's such a stressful treatment to put your body through. I didn't know that hydrogen peroxide levels in the brain could have an endocrinological impact like inhibition of serotonin and melatonin release/reuptake. Do you have more information about that/that should be another study to conduct.

    Hargun Khanna

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  6. It is not surprising to me that a treatment like chemotherapy can have severe side effects on a cancer patient. I’m curious as to how hydrogen peroxide actually enters the brain, is it from the chemotherapy or does it develop as a result of it? It is good to know that doctors have discovered this problem and they are already working on ways to alleviate it. Obviously, the more ideal situation would be to find a cure for cancer but because that is much easier said than done, anything done to help cancer patients is definitely a step in the right direction.

    Posted by Taylor Irwin

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