University of Oulu

Neurotoxicity in children after treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and methotrexate neurotoxicity in a controlled animal model

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Author: Lehtinen, Satu1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Paediatrics
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2003
Publish Date: 2003-06-13
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium of the Department of Paediatrics, on June 13th, 2003, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Toivo T. Salmi
Docent Tuula Äärimaa


In the Nordic countries, event-free survival (EFS) exceeds 80% in certain groups of children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). With the improved cure rates, however, there are more children suffering from neurological late effects, especially due to therapy directed at the central nervous system (CNS). The aim of this study is to examine the changes taking place in the nervous system after leukemia treatment and to evaluate the role of treatment in these changes in patients and in an animal model.

Twenty-seven ALL survivors and healthy controls were examined by means of motor evoked potentials (MEPs). ALL survivors were also examined clinically. The children with ALL continued to show decreased motor nerve conduction in the peripheral nerves, but not within the CNS, five years after the cessation of treatment. Clinical neurological findings were obtained in 33% of the cases. The MEP results indicated reversibility of the motor injury due to CNS effects.

Nineteen patients underwent perfusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the cessation of treatment or 4-8 years after the treatment. Seventeen of them also underwent single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The studies showed small perfusion defects in SPECT, which were not visible by perfusion MRI.

Methotrexate (Mtx) neurotoxicity was studied in a swine model using functional MRI, brain perfusion SPECT, iodine-123 labelled 2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl) tropane ([123I]β-CIT) SPECT and whole-hemisphere autoradiography with [125I]β-CIT in ten Mtx-treated animals and five control animals. Mtx-related changes in the brain could be detected as reduced or negative blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) responses to somatosensory activation in BOLD contrast MRI, which indicates changes in flow metabolism coupling. Perfusion defects in brain SPECT were seen in the Mtx group and the control group, which suggests that the perfusion defects seen in brain SPECT are probably multifactorial. The change in dopamine transporter (DAT) density in the Mtx group was not different from that in the controls.

The abnormalities in nerve conduction after treatment in survivors of ALL were partly reversible years after the treatment. The patients had perfusion defects in SPECT imaging which were not seen in perfusion MRI. The clinical significance of these defects remains obscure. The animal model suggested perfusion defects to be multifactorial.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7033-9
ISBN Print: 951-42-7032-0
Issue: 728
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2003. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.