Paper in Psychopharmacology (Berl)
  • Fardell JE, Vardy J, Shah JD, Johnston IN. (2012). Cognitive impairments caused by oxaliplatin and 5-fluorouracil chemotherapy are ameliorated by physical activity. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 220(1):183-93.

    Rationale: Studies in women with breast cancer, and in animal models, have demonstrated that chemotherapy can have a negative impact on cognitive function. Which chemotherapy agents cause problems with cognition and the aetiology of the impairment is unknown. Furthermore, there is no proven treatment.

    Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the effects of 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and oxaliplatin (OX) chemotherapy agents commonly used to treat colorectal cancer on cognition in laboratory rodents. Furthermore, we assessed physical activity as a potential remedy for the observed chemotherapy-induced cognitive deficits.

    Results: In rodents, treatment with 5FU and OX alone impairs memory as measured by novel object recognition. But combined treatment appears to have greater detrimental effects on hippocampal-dependent tasks, contextual fear recall and spatial reference memory (water maze), yet had no effect on cued fear recall, a non-hippocampal task. These impairments were prevented by 4 weeks of wheel running overnight after 5FU/OX treatment. We found a significant interaction between chemotherapy and exercise: rats receiving both 5FU/OX and exercise had improved cognition relative to non-exercising 5FU/OX rats on novel object recognition and spatial reference memory.

    Conclusions: The combination 5FU/OX had a significant impact on cognition. However, rats treated with 5FU/OX that exercised post chemotherapy had improved cognition relative to non-exercising rats. This suggests that physical activity may prove useful in ameliorating the cognitive impairments induced by 5FU/OX.