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Psychosocial and inflammatory factors have been associated with fatigue in breast cancer survivors. Nevertheless, the relative contribution and/or interaction of these factors with cancer-related fatigue have not been well documented.
This cross-sectional study enrolled 111 stage 0–III breast cancer patients treated with breast surgery followed by whole breast radiotherapy. Fatigue was measured by the total score of the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory-20. Potential risk factors included inflammatory markers (plasma cytokines and their receptors and C-reactive protein; CRP), depressive symptoms (as assessed by the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology–Self Reported), sleep (as assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) and perceived stress (as assessed by the Perceived Stress Scale) as well as age, race, marital status, smoking history, menopause status, endocrine treatment, chemotherapy and cancer stage. Linear regression modeling was employed to examine risk factors of fatigue. Only risk factors with a significance level <0.10 were included in the initial regression model. A post-hoc mediation model using PROCESS SPSS was conducted to examine the association among depressive symptoms, sleep problems, stress, inflammation and fatigue.
At 1 year post-radiotherapy, depressive symptoms (p<0.0001) and inflammatory markers (CRP: p = 0.015; interleukin-1 receptor antagonist: p = 0.014; soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor-2: p = 0.009 in separate models) were independent risk factors of fatigue. Mediation analysis showed that depressive symptoms also mediated the associations of fatigue with sleep and stress.
Depressive symptoms and inflammation were independent risk factors for cancer-related fatigue at 1 year post-radiotherapy, and thus represent independent treatment targets for this debilitating symptom.
Interferon-alpha (IFN-α) treatment for infectious disease and cancer causes high rates of depression and fatigue, and has been used to investigate the impact of inflammatory cytokines on brain and behavior. However, little is known about the transcriptional impact of chronic IFN-α on immune cells in vivo and its relationship to IFN-α-induced behavioral changes.
Genome-wide transcriptional profiling was performed on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 21 patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) either awaiting IFN-α therapy (n=10) or at 12 weeks of IFN-α treatment (n=11).
Significance analysis of microarray data identified 252 up-regulated and 116 down-regulated gene transcripts. Of the up-regulated genes, 2′-5′-oligoadenylate synthetase 2 (OAS2), a gene linked to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), was the only gene that was differentially expressed in patients with IFN-α-induced depression/fatigue, and correlated with depression and fatigue scores at 12 weeks (r=0.80, p=0.003 and r=0.70, p=0.017 respectively). Promoter-based bioinformatic analyses linked IFN-α-related transcriptional alterations to transcription factors involved in myeloid differentiation, IFN-α signaling, activator protein-1 (AP1) and cAMP responsive element binding protein/activation transcription factor (CREB/ATF) pathways, which were derived primarily from monocytes and plasmacytoid dendritic cells. IFN-α-treated patients with high depression/fatigue scores demonstrated up-regulation of genes bearing promoter motifs for transcription factors involved in myeloid differentiation, IFN-α and AP1 signaling, and reduced prevalence of motifs for CREB/ATF, which has been implicated in major depression.
Depression and fatigue during chronic IFN-α administration were associated with alterations in the expression (OAS2) and transcriptional control (CREB/ATF) of genes linked to behavioral disorders including CFS and major depression, further supporting an immune contribution to these diseases.
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