Elevated Cytokines May Be Associated with Chemo-Related Cognitive Impairment

Share this content:
Elevated concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β were observed in patients receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Elevated concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β were observed in patients receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer.

While elevated concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β were observed in patients with poorer response speed performance and perceived cognitive disturbances receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer, IL-4 may be protective against chemotherapy-associated cognitive impairment, a new study published online early in the journal Annals of Oncology has shown.

"This study is important because cytokines would potentially be mechanistic mediators of chemotherapy-associated cognitive changes," the study authors said.

For the study, researchers sought to investigate whether an association exists between pro-inflammatory cytokines and post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment in patients with breast cancer.

Researchers enrolled 99 chemotherapy-receiving patients with breast cancer. Pro-inflammatory cytokine concentrations were assessed prior to chemotherapy, 6 weeks after, and 12 weeks after chemotherapy initiation. 

Questionnaires and assessments were used to evaluate patients' self-perceived cognitive disturbances, memory, attention, response speed, and processing speed.

Results showed that higher plasma IL-1β was associated with poorer response and speed performance (P = 0.023), and an increased concentration of IL-4 was associated with better response speed performance (P = 0.022).

RELATED: Oophorectomy Linked to Better Survival in BRCA1 Breast Cancer

Researchers found that higher concentrations of IL-6 and IL-1β were associated with more severe self-perceived cognitive disturbances (P = 0.018 and 0.001, respectively).

The study also showed that patients with higher plasma concentrations of IL-4 was associated with less severe cognitive disturbances (P = 0.022).


  1. Cheung YT, Ng T, Shwe M, et al. Association of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemotherapy-associated cognitive impairment in breast cancer patients: a multicentered, prospective, cohort study. Ann Oncol. 2015. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdv206.

Related Resources

You must be a registered member of Cancer Therapy Advisor to post a comment.

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters

Regimen and Drug Listings


Bone Cancer Regimens Drugs
Brain Cancer Regimens Drugs
Breast Cancer Regimens Drugs
Endocrine Cancer Regimens Drugs
Gastrointestinal Cancer Regimens Drugs
Gynecologic Cancer Regimens Drugs
Head and Neck Cancer Regimens Drugs
Hematologic Cancer Regimens Drugs
Lung Cancer Regimens Drugs
Other Cancers Regimens
Prostate Cancer Regimens Drugs
Rare Cancers Regimens
Renal Cell Carcinoma Regimens Drugs
Skin Cancer Regimens Drugs
Urologic Cancers Regimens Drugs