Mouse study mirrors human findings that link chemotherapy and APOE4 to cognitive issues

The research, led by Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) investigators and published in Neurotoxicity Research, complements findings from another GUMC-led study, published Oct. 3, that found a subset of breast cancer patients who experience long lasting cognitive deficits also have the APOE4 gene. Cancer survivors often report memory difficulties and this study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), was the first large U.S. study of cognition in older breast cancer patients and the first to zero in on the cause of difficulties in memory, among other issues.

While the JCO study did not examine the specific type of chemotherapy used in the patients, who were being treated for metastatic breast cancer, the mouse study investigated a single drug, doxorubicin, which is commonly used to treat the cancer.

“These two studies took completely different approaches, yet they are telling the same story, and that is a real strength,” says G. William Rebeck, PhD, a professor in the GUMC Department of Neuroscience and senior author of the Neurotoxicity Research study.

“The data in the mice is very clear — APOE4 works in concert with doxorubicin to produce significant changes in the cortex and hippocampus and to markedly impair learning,”


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