Background: During treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), children report co-occurring symptoms of fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain, nausea, and depression as a symptom cluster. Central nervous system–directed ALL therapies also put children at risk for cognitive impairments. Cancer therapies can cause an increase in oxidative stress, which may contribute to treatment-related symptoms. This study examined the longitudinal relationships between biomarkers of oxidative stress in the cerebrospinal fluid, the Childhood Cancer Symptom Cluster–Leukemia (CCSC-L), and cognition, in children over the first year of ALL treatment. Methods: Glutathione (GSH) biomarkers of oxidative stress were measured in cerebrospinal fluid collected during treatment lumbar punctures. GSH biomarkers, symptoms, and cognitive function of 132 children aged 3 to 18 years were evaluated at four time points during the first year of leukemia treatment. Participants, 7 years and older, completed self-report measures, and parents reported for younger children. Cognitive function measurements for all participants were completed by parents. A longitudinal parallel-process model was used to explore the influence of the initial measurement and the subsequent change over four time points of the GSH biomarkers on the CCSC-L and cognition. Results: GSH biomarkers increased over the four time points indicating decreasing oxidative stress. When GSH biomarkers were higher (less oxidative stress) at the initial measurement, the CCSC-L severity was lower, cognition was better, and cognition improved over the four measurements. Screening children for high levels of oxidative stress would be a foundation for future intervention studies to address symptom distress and cognitive impairments.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health R01CA1693398 and the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
© 2020 by Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses.
- cognitive functioning
- symptom cluster