J Cancer 2011; 2:292-301. doi:10.7150/jca.2.292


Disruption of Learning Processes by Chemotherapeutic Agents in Childhood Survivors of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Preclinical Models

Emily B. Bisen-Hersh1,2✉, Philip N. Hineline2, Ellen A. Walker1,3

1. Neuroscience Program, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
2. Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
3. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Temple University School of Pharmacy, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA


Objective: With the survival rate of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) surpassing 90 percent within this decade, new research is emerging in the field of late effects. A review of the research investigating the relationship of treatment regimens for ALL to specific late effect deficits, underlying mechanisms, and possible remediation is warranted to support continued studies.

Methods: The clinical literature was briefly surveyed to describe the occurrence and topography of late effects, specifically neurocognitive deficits. Additionally, the preclinical literature was reviewed to uncover potential underlying mechanisms of these deficits. The advantages of using rodent models to answer these questions are outlined, as is an assessment of the limited number of rodent models of childhood cancer treatment.

Results: The literature supports that childhood survivors of ALL exhibit academic difficulties and are more likely to be placed in a special education program. Behavioral evidence has highlighted impairments in the areas of attention, working memory, and processing speed, leading to a decrease in full scale IQ. Neurophysiological and preclinical evidence for these deficits has implicated white matter abnormalities and acquired brain damage resulting from specific chemotherapeutic agents commonly used during treatment.

Conclusions: The exact role of chemotherapeutic agents in learning deficits remains mostly unknown. Recommendations for an improved rodent model of learning deficits in childhood cancer survivors are proposed, along with suggestions for future directions in this area of research, in hopes that forthcoming treatment regimens will reduce or eliminate these types of impairments.

Keywords: childhood cancer, cognitive late effects, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, preclinical models, chemotherapy

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How to cite this article:
Bisen-Hersh EB, Hineline PN, Walker EA. Disruption of Learning Processes by Chemotherapeutic Agents in Childhood Survivors of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Preclinical Models. J Cancer 2011; 2:292-301. doi:10.7150/jca.2.292. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v02p0292.htm