PurposeChemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is commonly reported following the administration of chemotherapeutic agents and comprises a wide variety of neurological problems. No effective treatments for CRCI are currently available. Here we examined the mechanisms involving cisplatin-induced hippocampal damage following cisplatin administration in a rat model and in cultured rat hippocampal neurons and neural stem/progenitor cells (NSCs). We also assessed the protective effects of the antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine in mitigating these damages.
Experimental designAdult male rats received 6mg/kg cisplatin in the acute studies. In chronic studies, rats received 5mg/kg cisplatin or saline injections once per week for 4 weeks. N-acetylcysteine (250mg/kg/day) or saline was administered for five consecutive days during cisplatin treatment. Cognitive testing was performed 5 weeks after treatment cessation. Cisplatin-treated cultured hippocampal neurons and NSCs were examined for changes in mitochondrial function, oxidative stress production, caspase-9 activation, and neuronal dendritic spine density.
ResultsAcute cisplatin treatment reduced dendritic branching and spine density, and induced mitochondrial degradation. Rats receiving the chronic cisplatin regimen showed impaired performance in contextual fear conditioning, context object discrimination, and novel object recognition tasks compared to controls. Cisplatin induced mitochondrial DNA damage, impaired respiratory activity, increased oxidative stress, and activated caspase-9 in cultured hippocampal neurons and NSCs. N-acetylcysteine treatment prevented free radical production, ameliorated apoptotic cellular death and dendritic spine loss, and partially reversed the cisplatin-induced cognitive impairments.
ConclusionsOur results suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction and increased oxidative stress are involved in cisplatin-induced cognitive impairments. Therapeutic agents, such as N-acetylcysteine, may be effective in mitigating the deleterious effects of cisplatin.