Identifying early diffusion imaging biomarkers of regional white matter injury as indicators of executive function decline following brain radiotherapy: A prospective clinical trial in primary brain tumor patients

Kathryn R. Tringale, Tanya Nguyen, Naeim Bahrami, Deborah C. Marshall, Kelly M. Leyden, Roshan Karunamuni, Tyler M. Seibert, Mary Kay Gorman, Michael Connor, Jeff Burkeen, David E. Piccioni, Nikdokht Farid, Jona A. Hattangadi-Gluth, Carrie R. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and purpose: Executive function (EF) decline is common after brain radiation therapy (RT), yet the etiology is unclear. We analyzed the association between longitudinal changes in frontal lobe white matter microstructure and decline in EF following RT in brain tumor patients on a prospective clinical trial. Materials and methods: Diffusion tensor imaging was obtained on 22 patients with brain tumors prior to RT, as well as 3- and 6-months post-RT, in a prospective, observational trial. Fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD), and axial diffusivity (AD) were calculated within the superficial white matter (SWM) of the anterior cingulate (AC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Measures of cognitive flexibility, verbal fluency, and verbal set-shifting were obtained pre- and post-RT. Reliable change indices were calculated to determine significant baseline to 6-month EF changes. Results: Decreases in FA and increases in MD were observed in the caudal AC (CAC) at 3-months post-RT. CAC changes were characterized by increased RD bilaterally. From baseline to 6-months post-RT, decreased FA and increased MD and RD of the CAC was associated with decline in verbal set-shifting ability, whereas increased MD in the CAC was associated with a decline in cognitive flexibility. Conclusion: White matter underlying the AC may be particularly vulnerable to radiation effects. Early microstructural loss within AC SWM represents an important biomarker for EF decline, and dose reduction in this region may represent a possibility for cognitive preservation for patients receiving radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Volume132
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Brain tumors
  • Executive function
  • Neurocognition
  • Neuroimaging
  • Radiation therapy

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