Longitudinal assessment of chemotherapy-induced brain connectivity changes in cerebral white matter and its correlation with cognitive functioning using the GQI

Vincent Chin Hung Chen, Wei Chuang, Yuan Hsiung Tsai, Roger S. McIntyre, Jun Cheng Weng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review


Objective: Breast cancer was the most prevalent type of cancer and had the highest incidence rate among women worldwide. The wide use of adjuvant chemotherapy might have a detrimental effect on the human brain and result in chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CICI) among breast cancer patients. Furthermore, prior to chemotherapy, patients reported cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI), which might be due to physiological factors or mood symptoms. The present longitudinal study aimed to investigate microstructural and macroscale white matter alterations by generalized q-sampling imaging (GQI). Methods: The participants were categorized into a pre-chemotherapy group (BB) if they were diagnosed with primary breast cancer and an age-matched noncancer control group (HC). Some participants returned for follow-up assessment. In the present follow up study, 28 matched pairs of BB/BBF (follow up after chemotherapy) individuals and 28 matched pairs of HC/HCF (follow up) individuals were included. We then used GQI and graph theoretical analysis (GTA) to detect microstructural alterations in the whole brain. In addition, we evaluated the relationship between longitudinal changes in GQI indices and neuropsychological tests as well as psychiatric comorbidity. Findings: The results showed that disruption of white matter integrity occurred in the default mode network (DMN) of patients after chemotherapy, such as in the corpus callosum (CC) and middle frontal gyrus (MFG). Furthermore, weaker connections between brain regions and lower segregation ability were observed in the post-chemotherapy group. Significant correlations were observed between neuropsychological tests and white matter tracts of the CC, MFG, posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) and superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). Conclusion: The results provided evidence of white matter alterations in breast cancer patients, and they may serve as potential imaging markers of cognitive changes. In the future, the study may be beneficial to create and evaluate strategies designed to maintain or improve cognitive function in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1332984
Pages (from-to)1332984
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024 Chen, Chuang, Tsai, McIntyre and Weng.


  • breast cancer
  • chemotherapy
  • cognitive function
  • generalized q-sampling imaging (GQI)
  • longitudinal study


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