Memory Research News in Problems

Can targeting inflammation ease chemo brain?

  • A small pilot study has confirmed that inflammation in the blood plays a role in chemobrain.

A pilot study involving 22 breast cancer patients currently receiving chemotherapy (mean age 54), has found that those with higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers did significantly worse on tests for short-term visual memory. One particular biomarker — tumor necrosis factor-alpha (as reflected through its two soluble receptors, TNFRI and TNFRII) — was the strongest indicator of cognitive problems.

The findings are consistent with an earlier study involving 174 breast cancer patients evaluated before chemotherapy, which found that higher levels of those biomarkers were associated with worse memory, and another study of 49 patients, which found that higher levels of sTNFRII were associated with more memory complaints after chemotherapy.

Cognition was assessed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), looking at those domains previously reported to be affected in cancer survivors: visual memory, executive functioning, attention, verbal memory, and cognitive processing.

Almost all the patients were Caucasian and college-educated.

http://www.futurity.org/chemo-brain-cancer-1631232-2/

Reference: 

Williams, AnnaLynn M. et al. 2018. Associations between inflammatory markers and cognitive function in breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 314, 17-23. Full text available at https://www.jni-journal.com/article/S0165-5728(17)30198-4/fulltext

Patel, S.K., Wong, A.L., Wong, F.L., Breen, E.C., Hurria, A., Smith, M. et al. 2015. Inflammatory biomarkers, comorbidity, and neurocognition in women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. J. Natl. Cancer Inst., 107.

Ganz, P.A., Bower, J.E., Kwan, L., Castellon, S.A., Silverman, D.H., Geist, C. et al. 2013. Does tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) play a role in post-chemotherapy cerebral dysfunction?. Brain Behav. Immun., 30, S99–108.

The right diet may slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors

  • An observational study involving over 100 stroke survivors suggests the MIND diet may help substantially slow cognitive decline in those impaired by stroke.

A pilot study involving 106 participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project who had experienced a stroke followed participants for an average of 5.9 years, testing their cognitive function and monitoring their eating habits using food journals. It was found that those whose diets scored highest on the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet score had substantially slower rates of cognitive decline than those who scored lowest. The estimated effect of the diet remained strong even after taking into account participants' level of education and participation in cognitive and physical activities. Those who instead scored high on the Mediterranean or DASH diets did not show the same slower decline.

Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets have been shown to be protective against coronary artery disease and stroke, but this finding suggests the MIND diet is better for overall brain health.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. It has 15 components: 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and five unhealthy groups (red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food).

To adhere to the MIND diet, you need to

  • eat at least three daily servings of whole grains
  • eat a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day
  • drink a regular glass of wine
  • snack most days on nuts
  • have beans every other day or so
  • eat poultry and berries at least twice a week
  • eat fish at least once a week
  • limit butter to less than 1 1/2 teaspoons a day
  • eat less than 5 servings a week of sweets and pastries
  • eat less than one serving per week of whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food.

The researchers stress that this is a preliminary study, observational only. They are currently seeking participants for a wider, intervention study.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-01/rumc-mdm012418.php

Reference: 

Laurel J. Cherian & Martha Clare Morris: Presentation at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2018 in Los Angeles, January 25.