To investigate chemotherapy dosage-related cognitive impairment and its neural mechanisms in breast cancer (BC) patients. Twenty-eight breast cancer patients after each chemotherapy cycle and matched 29 healthy control subjects underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging. Voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed to compare group differences in the gray matter for the whole brain. Furthermore, mediation analysis was conducted to explore the role of brain structures in chemotherapy dosage-related cognitive impairment. Voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed in gray matter for the whole brain of BC patients after chemotherapy. The results revealed that the gray matter density in the left inferior frontal gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, right fusiform area, and bilateral cerebellum was decreased in the BC patients compared to controls. The number of chemotherapy cycles was negatively associated with general cognitive capacity, verbal fluency and digit span performance in the BC patients. In addition, decreased gray matter density in the right middle frontal gyrus could mediate the chemotherapy dosage effects on verbal fluency performance. These findings indicate that the dose-response relationship between chemotherapy and cognitive impairment may depend on the decreases in gray matter density of the frontal cortical structures.
In this study, we aimed to investigate the intrinsic hippocampal functional connectivity (FC) network and its relationship with prospective memory in patients with breast cancer suffering from chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment (CICI). Thirty-four breast cancer patients before and after adjuvant chemotherapy (CB and CC, respectively) and 31 age- and education-matched cognitively normal (CN) women were recruited and subjected to a prospective memory task and a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scan. Seed-based functional connectivity analysis was used to compare the hippocampal FC networks between CC and CN groups. Partial correction analysis was used to examine the association between the hippocampal FC network and prospective memory in the CC group. The cancer group that underwent chemotherapy obtained significantly poorer scores than the CN group on mini-mental state examination, verbal fluency test, digit span, and prospective memory examination. Compared to the CN group, CC group showed increased hippocampal connectivity in the frontal and parietal cortex, precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, and the cerebellum. In addition, the increasing hippocampal FC networks were negatively correlated with prospective memory performance in the CC group. These findings suggest maladaptive hippocampal functioning as a mechanism underlying the impairment of prospective memory in patients experiencing CICI.