Pereira Dias G, Hollywood R, Bevilaqua MC, da Luz AC, Hindges R, Nardi AE, Thuret S (2014) Consequences of cancer treatments on adult hippocampal neurogenesis: implications for cognitive function and depressive symptoms. Neuro Oncol 16: 476-92

The human brain is capable of generating new functional neurons throughout life, a phenomenon known as adult neurogenesis. The generation of new neurons is sustained throughout adulthood due to the proliferation and differentiation of adult neural stem cells. This process in humans is uniquely located in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus in the hippocampus. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) is thought to play a major role in hippocampus-dependent functions, such as spatial awareness, long-term memory, emotionality, and mood. The overall aim of current treatments for cancer (such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy) is to prevent aberrant cell division of cell populations associated with malignancy. However, the treatments in question are absolutist in nature and hence inhibit all cell division. An unintended consequence of this cessation of cell division is the impairment of adult neural stem cell proliferation and AHN. Patients undergoing treatment for cancerous malignancies often display specific forms of memory deficits, as well as depressive symptoms. This review aims to discuss the effects of cancer treatments on AHN and propose a link between the inhibition of the neurogenetic process in the hippocampus and the advent of the cognitive and mood-based deficits observed in patients and animal models undergoing cancer therapies. Possible evidence for coadjuvant interventions aiming to protect neural cells, and subsequently the mood and cognitive functions they regulate, from the ablative effects of cancer treatment are discussed as potential clinical tools to improve mental health among cancer patients.

Pubmed: 24470543