Changes in Brain Structural Networks and Cognitive Functions in Testicular Cancer Patients Receiving Cisplatin-Based Chemotherapy

Amidi, Ali, Hosseini, S. M.Hadi, Leemans, Alexander, Kesler, Shelli R., Agerbæk, Mads, Wu, Lisa M., Zachariae, Robert


Journal of the National Cancer Institute 109 (12),


Background: Cisplatin-based chemotherapy may have neurotoxic effects within the central nervous system. The aims of this study were 1) to longitudinally investigate the impact of cisplatin-based chemotherapy on whole-brain networks in testicular cancer patients undergoing treatment and 2) to explore whether possible changes are related to decline in cognitive functioning. Methods: Sixty-four newly orchiectomized TC patients underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging (T1-weighted and diffusion-weighted imaging) and cognitive testing at baseline prior to further treatment and again at a six-month follow-up. At follow-up, 22 participants had received cisplatin-based chemotherapy (CT) while 42 were in active surveillance (S). Brain structural networks were constructed for each participant, and network properties were investigated using graph theory and longitudinally compared across groups. Cognitive functioning was evaluated using standardized neuropsychological tests. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Compared with the S group, the CT group demonstrated altered global and local brain network properties from baseline to follow-up as evidenced by decreases in important brain network properties such as small-worldness (P =.04), network clustering (P =.04), and local efficiency (P =.02). In the CT group, poorer overall cognitive performance was associated with decreased small-worldness (r = -0.46, P =.04) and local efficiency (r = -0.51, P =.02), and verbal fluency was associated with decreased local efficiency (r = -0.55, P =.008). Conclusions: Brain structural networks may be disrupted following treatment with cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Impaired brain networks may underlie poorer performance over time on both specific and nonspecific cognitive functions in patients undergoing chemotherapy. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to longitudinally investigate changes in structural brain networks in a cancer population, providing novel insights regarding the neurobiological mechanisms of cancer-related cognitive impairment.