Treating the cerebrospinal fluid to protect the brain from chemotherapy’s toxic effects


As much as three quarters of sufferers receiving most cancers chemotherapy endure from “chemo mind” -; a long-term facet impact that makes it tougher to recollect issues, preserve consideration, and study new data. When it strikes youngsters, whose brains are nonetheless growing, their schoolwork and shallowness could endure.

Once we meet with dad and mom and speak concerning the life-saving remedy we’re proposing for his or her kid’s most cancers, one of the distressing potential unwanted effects we generally describe is cognitive loss. If we had preventive therapies that might be delivered throughout remedy, or later within the survivorship part of care, that may be game-changing.”

Lisa Diller, MD, pediatric oncologist, chief medical officer, Dana-Farber/Boston Youngsters’s Most cancers and Blood Issues Middle

In a research revealed within the journal Neuron on September 6, collaborators Maria Lehtinen, PhD and Naama Kanarek, PhD, within the Division of Pathology at Boston Youngsters’s Hospital, take a primary step in that route. Their imaginative and prescient: treating the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes the mind and spinal twine to guard the mind from chemotherapy’s poisonous results.

“If we will deal with the CSF, which is simple to focus on, we will doubtlessly deal with the mind itself,” says Kanarek.

Investigating chemo’s results on the mind

Lehtinen has carried out pioneering research displaying the significance of the CSF in selling mind well being and development, along with the choroid plexus, the little-known mind tissue that produces CSF. Individually, Kanarek has been finding out the metabolic results of the chemotherapy drug methotrexate on most cancers cells. Methotrexate is utilized in youngsters with acute lymphoblastic leukemia that has unfold to the mind, in addition to osteosarcoma and sure tumors of the central nervous system. Additionally it is utilized in adults to deal with leukemia, lymphoma, breast most cancers, and lung most cancers.

The 2 labs teamed up. In an preliminary research of mice, they discovered that publicity to methotrexate brought on oxidative injury -; a metabolic imbalance resulting in the manufacturing of poisonous oxygen molecules -; to each the CSF and the choroid plexus. Nerve cells within the hippocampus, the mind’s predominant heart of studying and reminiscence, have been additionally broken. And in behavioral testing, the mice confirmed elevated anxiousness and impairment on duties involving short-term studying and reminiscence.

Utilizing superior laboratory instruments, Lehtinen, Kanarek, and colleagues additional confirmed that methotrexate prevented the choroid plexus from secreting a key enzyme, superoxide dismutase 3 (SOD3), into the CSF. SOD3 is a pure antioxidant that usually protects cells within the mind and different tissues by serving to break down doubtlessly poisonous oxygen molecules. The researchers assume that with out SOD3 delivered by the CSF, mind cells are extra inclined to break.

Reversing poisonous mind results of methotrexate

Do the identical results occur in people? The researchers first studied human neurons generated from stem cells. After they uncovered the neurons to methotrexate, they produced much less SOD and confirmed proof of oxidative injury.

In addition they studied CSF samples from 11 grownup most cancers sufferers who had obtained methotrexate chemotherapy for lymphomas affecting their central nervous system. In contrast with 12 cancer-free controls who didn’t obtain methotrexate, these sufferers had lowered ranges of SOD3 of their CSF and a rise in markers of oxidative injury.

So might including SOD3 again shield the mind? Utilizing a gene remedy method within the mice, the analysis workforce boosted SOD3 manufacturing within the choroid plexus. After they then gave the mice methotrexate, the animals’ CSF and mind tissue have been largely freed from oxidative injury, and there was much less proof of hysteria and reminiscence impairment.

“With extra work sooner or later, these findings have the potential to stop or deal with one of the regarding late results of methotrexate, a most cancers drug we use incessantly,” says Diller, who was not a part of the research.

Exploring therapy prospects

Lehtinen and Kanarek now need to discover the consequences of different chemotherapy medicine on the CSF and choroid plexus. In addition they need to higher perceive how methotrexate and antioxidants have an effect on different components of the mind, and check the efficacy of antioxidants given immediately, relatively than by means of gene remedy, in assuaging chemo mind.

Antioxidant therapies might doubtlessly come within the type of an IV injection, a nasal spray, or an intrathecal injection, by means of a spinal faucet, immediately into the CSF. Such therapies might presumably be given along with the chemotherapy itself. Essentially the most quick alternative may be in sufferers who’re receiving intrathecal methotrexate for mind most cancers, or for leukemia or lymphoma with mind involvement, says Kanarek.

One other potential method, but to be examined, is just offering antioxidants by means of antioxidant-rich meals or dietary dietary supplements.

“This primary research is simply the tip of the iceberg,” says Lehtinen. “If we might appropriate the collateral injury of chemotherapy and make even a small enchancment within the trajectory of sufferers’ lives, that may be actually thrilling.”


Journal reference:

Jang, A., et al. (2022) Choroid plexus-CSF-targeted antioxidant remedy protects the mind from toxicity of most cancers chemotherapy. Neuron.

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