Is basic research providing answers if adjuvant anti-estrogen treatment of breast cancer can induce cognitive impairment?
Life Sci. 2013 Oct 17;93(17):581-8
Authors: Buwalda B, Schagen SB
Adjuvant treatment of cancer by chemotherapy is associated with cognitive impairment in some cancer survivors. Breast cancer patients are frequently also receiving endocrine therapy with selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and/or aromatase inhibitors (AIs) to suppress the growth of estradiol sensitive breast tumors. Estrogens are well-known, however, to target brain areas involved in the regulation of cognitive behavior. In this review clinical and basic preclinical research is reviewed on the actions of estradiol, SERMs and AIs on brain and cognitive functioning to see if endocrine therapy potentially induces cognitive impairment and in that respect may contribute to the detrimental effects of chemotherapy on cognitive performance in breast cancer patients. Although many clinical studies may be underpowered to detect changes in cognitive function, current basic and clinical reports suggest that there is little evidence that AIs may have a lasting detrimental effect on cognitive performance in breast cancer patients. The clinical data on SERMs are not conclusive, but some studies do suggest that tamoxifen administration may form a risk for cognitive functioning particularly in older women. An explanation may come from basic preclinical research which indicates that tamoxifen often acts agonistic in the absence of estradiol but antagonistic in the presence of endogenous estradiol. It could be hypothesized that the negative effects of tamoxifen in older women is related to the so-called window of opportunity for estrogen. Administration of SERMs beyond this so-called window of opportunity may not be effective or might even have detrimental effects similar to estradiol.
PMID: 23353876 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]