Accelerated brain aging has been proposed to explain cancer-related cognitive impairment, but empirical evidence for this relationship is lacking. The purpose of this study was to evaluate amyloid beta (Aβ) and tau, biomarkers of neurodegeneration, in relation to cognition in breast cancer survivors (BCSs). We explored relationships among peripheral concentrations of Aβ42, Aβ-40, tau, and cytokines; cognitive function; and psychosomatic symptoms in a cohort of BCSs post-chemotherapy.
This secondary analysis of a cross-sectional study was conducted with 65 BCSs. Serum total Aβ-42, Aβ-40, and tau levels were measured with single molecule array technology. Cytokines (interleukin [IL]-6, tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-α, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor [GM-CSF], interferon [IFN]-g, IL-10, IL-12, IL-13, IL1-b, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-7, and IL-8) were simultaneously measured in serum using multiplex assays. Cognitive function was measured with five standardized neuropsychological tests and psychosomatic symptoms (stress, loneliness, anxiety, depressive symptoms, fatigue, sleep quality, and daytime sleepiness) with self-report questionnaires. Data analyses included correlations and random forest regression (RFR).
Significant correlations were identified among hip-to-waste ratio, number of treatment modalities, Aβ-42, Aβ-40, and tau levels (rs = .27-.35, ps < .05). RFR modeling including Aβ-42, Aβ-40, tau, and cytokines as features explained significant variance in cognitive function (R 2 = .71, F = 9.01, p < .0001) and psychosomatic symptoms (R 2 = .74, F = 10.22, p < .0001).
This study suggests that neurodegenerative biomarkers interact with cytokines to influence cognitive functioning and psychosomatic symptoms in BCSs following chemotherapy, but additional research is needed.