Showing posts with label Cytobrain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cytobrain. Show all posts

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Chemo-Brain and Apparently Cyto-Brain in some Autism and even ADHD

Some readers of this blog have developed quite advanced personalized medication for their child with autism.  As you might expect, given the wide variety of autism sub-types, the medical therapies found to be effective vary widely.  It is interesting that many people see fluctuations in cognitive function and some develop strategies to counter them.

I came across another form of variable cognitive dysfunction, “Chemo-brain”, that occurs in people after cancer treatment.  Chemo brain can also be called chemo fog, chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment or just cognitive dysfunction.

It is interesting for readers of this blog because chemo brain is thought to be caused by changes in inflammatory cytokine expression within the brain, over a few years the symptoms usually fade away.  Some people’s autism just fades away, although tell-tale signs usually remain.

Cytokine expression appears to be both a cause of autism and a consequence of it.  One clever researcher in this field is Paul Ashwood, who recently published another paper, this time regarding their causal effect.

Autism with intellectual disability is associated with increased levels of maternal cytokines and chemokines during gestation

A confusing term that also appears is dyscognition; this is not a real word, but is either used to describe another condition sometimes called “fibro fog”, or it just means cognitive dysfunction.   Fibro fog is the name given to cognitive dysfunction in fibromyalgia, which occurs alongside fatigue and muscle pain.

Many doctors believe that fibromyalgia is often a made up condition.  I think, in some people, fibromyalgia is one step short, in a multiple hit process, of a progression to autism.  If you look at biological links between neuropathic pain and autism, like purinergic signaling (P2Y2 etc) there are connections between pain and autism.  As we know, people with autism can be both hypo and hyper sensitive to pain.  

This post is really just look to see are there any clever thoughts regarding chemo brain that can be translated to treating cognitive dysfunction in autism, be it the baseline autism or those flare ups.

Further, the cytokine hypothesis suggests a range of potential therapeutic targets. One potential approach would be to prevent the acute change in cytokines related to cancer treatment from occurring. Agents that inhibit cytokine activity, such as monoclonal antibodies and small molecular inhibitors, may confer benefit either alone or as an adjuvant treatment to chemotherapy-induced cognitive decline in cancer patients. TNF-α antagonists (etanercept and infliximab) have been shown to inhibit fatigue and improve depressive symptoms in patients with advanced cancer. P2×7 antagonist that inhibits IL-1b release has been shown to reduce depressive-like profiles and neuropathic pain in animal models. Specific p38 MAPK and NF-κB inhibitors that block inflammatory signaling transduction have generated great interest from their use in the treatment of cytokine-induced depressive behavior and antidepressant-like effects in animal models. Anti-inflammatory cytokines, IL-10, IL-4 and minocycline may also have the potential therapeutic effects on chemotherapy-induced cognitive decline by inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokine release through modulation of the caspase pathways. Even acupuncture may have therapeutic potential considering its effects on suppressing proinflammatory cytokines, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-10. Acupuncture has been often used to alleviate the side effects of cancer treatment, including pain, nausea, hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety/mood disorders, and sleep disturbance. A series of interesting studies suggest a therapeutic role in dyscognition, for example, acupuncture improved cognitive function of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and various dementia, with clinical improvement correlating with alterations in functional connectivity and resting state activity of particular brain regions. Such approaches to the prevention of cancer-therapy dyscognition are reasonable, currently feasible, and scientifically testable.
BDNF and its receptor tropomyosin-related kinase receptor type B (TRKB) play a potential role in the pathogenesis of neurological and neuropsychological disorders . Epigenetic or pharmacological enhancement of BDNF–trkB signaling restores was reported to reverse the aging-related cognitive decline. BDNF polymorphisms are associated with impaired memory and cognition, along with reduced hippocampal activation as measured by fMRI. Age-related BDNF declines have been reported to be associated with declines in hippocampal volume and spatial memory in the elderly. Low BDNF is associated with cognitive impairment in patients with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Significantly decreased blood serum BDNF levels have been detected in patients with cognitive impairment due to obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome. Given its potent effects on neuronal function and survival in various cell systems in the CNS, BDNF has been evaluated in patients with various neurology cal disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. However, delivery of BDNF remains a substantial challenge for clinical trials because it is a moderately sized and charged protein and only minimal amount of BDNF administrated peripherally crosses the BBB to reach neurons in the brain. Acupuncture has been reported to increase neurotrophic factors  and the levels of nerve growth factors in the brain by altering the permeability of the BBB. In rats, electric acupuncture enhanced motor recovery after cerebral infarction that was associated with increased expression of BDNF in the brain.
With cytokines acting as a trigger to upstream changes, anti-cytokine therapies may have little therapeutic effect once upstream mechanisms responsible for dyscognition have been established, given that the most clinically available anti-cytokine antibodies are not readily to penetrate the blood–brain barrier. Antibody concentrations in the brain are typically about a thousand times lower than in the blood. Therefore, to better prevent development of cognitive dysfunction, anti-cytokine therapies would be best used by blocking cytokine production or inhibiting cytokine release in the peripheral prior to triggering the consequent events in the CNS. However, epigenetic changes are dynamic and the pathological changes caused by epigenetic modifications can be reversed prior to the development of permanent symptoms by targeting enzymes or other factors that control or maintain the epigenetic status. Treatments that seek to reverse casual epigenetic modifications have the potential to be effective. Such treatments are still in their infancy. S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) is an important methyl group donor required for proper DNA methylation and has been used to treat memory and cognitive symptoms in depressed patients. Betaine, another methyl donor, has been shown to improve memory in mice memory impairment induced by lipopolysaccharide. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) inhibitors can also alter epigenetic modifications, which have been studied in memory and cognition . In a mouse model, administration of crebinostat, a HDAC inhibitor, improves memory. Sirtuins, a class III HDAC inhibitors found in red grape skin and wine resveratrol have been found to improve cognitive function in mice and are currently under phase II clinical trial (ADAS-Cog,; NCT01504854, 2013).
In summary, cognitive dysfunction remains a common and debilitating effect of cancer treatment, with no effective prevention and treatment, although a variety of pharmacologic and non-pharmacological strategies have been investigated. We present a speculative but testable hypothesis of how cognitive dysfunction may occur following chemotherapy. Unlike other dyscognitive illnesses, it is both scientifically and ethically feasible to study the onset of “chemobrain” by administering a major physiologic stress and observing the biological ramifications. It should be possible to gain a comprehensive understanding of the mechanism underlying cognitive dysfunction in cancer patients. Such knowledge is critical to identifying methods to both prevent and treat cancer-treatment dyscognition and potentially other dyscognitive disorders.


Rather by coincidence a very recent study on ADHD was just published and highlighted on the Questioning Answers Blog, it shows something rather similar.  In people with ADHD and allergy, when you treat their allergy with antihistamines and/or steroids their ADHD symptoms improve.  In other words the inflammatory signaling from allergies exacerbates their underlying neurological problems.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder-related symptoms improved with allergic rhinitis treatment in children.

Increased prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children with allergic rhinitis (AR) has been reported. Our previous study showed that children with untreated AR had higher ADHD scores than did the controls.


This prospective follow-up study aimed to investigate whether elevated ADHD scores in children with AR could be decreased by AR treatment.


Sixty-eight children with AR (age range, 6-14 years) and who were drug naive were enrolled and evaluated by AR symptom score, ADHD symptom scores, and computerized continuous performance test, before and after AR therapy, which included nonpharmacologic intervention, oral antihistamines, and topical steroids. Thirty-one age-matched controls and 13 children with pure ADHD were also enrolled for comparison. The relationship between the AR and ADHD score change was analyzed by a partial correlation test, and univariate and multivariate linear regression models were applied to investigate possible predictors for the improvement of ADHD scores by AR treatment.


AR symptom scores in children with AR decreased significantly after treatment (p < 0.001), and their ADHD scores also decreased significantly (p < 0.001). An improved AR symptom score was positively correlated with improved detectability (rp = 0.617, p = 0.001) and commission error (rp = 0.511, p = 0.011). Significant predictors for the improvement of ADHD scores included age, AR drugs, AR subtypes, and multiple atopic diseases (ps < 0.05).


Higher ADHD scores in children with AR compared with healthy controls decreased significantly with AR treatment. For children with AR and borderline ADHD symptoms, who do not meet full ADHD diagnostic criteria, we recommend initially treating their AR and monitoring improvement of ADHD symptoms.

I have documented in this blog how allergy can make autism worse and numerous people have left comments that allergic rhinitis treatment in children reduces their autism.

This would seem to me to suggest that controlling inflammatory cytokines may ameliorate the issues faced by people with conditions ranging from ADHD and autism to chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment and quite possibly some types of dementia and MCI (mild cognitive impairment) not to mention TBI (traumatic brain injury).

There are numerous possible ways to influence pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines, very likely different people will respond to different therapies.  What helps people with chemobrain may well be worth investigating for people with what I am calling cytobrain.

In the world of autism, as the door appears to be closing on the development of TSO parasites as immuno-modulators another one is opening for probiotic bacteria.  This was discussed in the comments section of the last post.  

Immunomodulatory probiotics for chemobrain perhaps?  Probably worth a try.