Advances in the early diagnosis and treatment have led to increases in breast cancer survivorship. Survivors report cognitive impairment symptoms such as loss of concentration and learning and memory deficits which significantly reduce the patient's quality of life. Additional therapies are needed to prevent these side effects and, the precise mechanisms of action responsible are not fully elucidated. However, increasing evidence points toward the use of neuroprotective compounds with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties as tools for conserving learning and memory. Here, we examine the ability of piperlongumine (PL), an alkaloid known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, to play a neuroprotective role in 16-week-old female C57BL/6J mice treated with a common breast cancer regimen of doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, and docetaxel (TAC). During social memory testing, TAC-treated mice exhibited impairment, while TAC/PL co-treated mice did not exhibit measurable social memory deficits. Proteomics analysis showed ERK1/2 signaling is involved in TAC and TAC/PL co-treatment. Reduced Nrf2 mRNA expression was also observed. mRNA levels of Gria2 were increased in TAC treated mice and reduced in TAC/PL co-treated mice. In this study, PL protects against social memory impairment when co-administered with TAC via multifactorial mechanisms involving oxidative stress and synaptic plasticity.
Keywords: brain; chemotherapy; memory; piperlongumine.