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Taishan Tong, Chunqin Pei, Jun Chen, Qing Lv, Fuquan Zhang, Zaohuo Cheng
(Department of Psychology and Psychiatry, The Affiliated Wuxi Mental Health Center of Nanjing Medical University, Wuxi, Jiangsu, China (mainland))
Med Sci Monit 2018; 24:2919-2927
Chemotherapy can cause adverse effects such as chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI). In this prospective study, the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture therapy in relieving CRCI and its impact on serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are evaluated.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Eighty patients were randomly divided into a treatment group and a control group with 40 patients in each group. The treatment group was treated at the following acupuncture points: Baihui (DU20), Sishencong (EX-HN1), Shenting (DU24), Zusanli (ST36), Taixi (K13), Dazhong (K14), and Juegu (GB39). Cognitive function was assessed using the functional assessment of cancer treatment cognition test (FACT-COG, version 3), the auditory-verbal learning test (AVLT), the verbal fluency test (VFT), the symbol digit modality test (SDMT), the clock-drawing test (CDT), and the trail-making test part B (TMT-B). In addition, blood serum levels of BDNF were measured before and after treatment. Correlations between change in BDNF levels and cognitive function were also analyzed.
RESULTS: CRCI was ameliorated in the acupuncture treatment group, with scores on FACT-COG, AVLT-recognition and CDT assessments all significantly increased (P<0.05 in all cases). In addition, serum BDNF levels after acupuncture treatment were significantly higher than before treatment (t=3.242, P<0.01). Moreover, the level of BDNF was positively correlated with the total score of FACT-COG, AVLT-recognition, and CDT (r=0.694, 0.628, and 0.532, respectively; all P<0.05). The control group showed no statistically significant difference in any measures over the same period.
CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture therapy is effective in the treatment of CRCI in breast cancer patients through a mechanism that may be related to an increase of BDNF.